Aziz reposes faith in Indo-Pak dialogue
The Indian and Pakistan PMs cordially discuss Siachen, Sir Creek, gas pipeline and the Samjhauta Express blasts.delhi Updated: Apr 04, 2007 20:51 IST
Noting that the ongoing dialogue process has created a "good atmosphere", Pakistan on Wednesday said it was trying every effort to make it a success and hoped tangible results will be achieved on Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said he had shared these views with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their 50-minute meeting, which also covered Siachen, Sir Creek, Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline and connectivity issues.
The cross-border Samjhauta Express blasts, that killed 68 Indians and Pakistanis in February, also came up for discussion and Singh assured his counterpart that the progress in investigations will be shared periodically with Islamabad, Aziz told reporters in New Delhi.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of prisoners, with Aziz assuring Singh that Pakistan would take early action to return boats seized from Indian fishermen.
On Jammu and Kashmir, Aziz said dialogue was progressing at various levels to address the issue.
"The ongoing dialogue process has created a good atmosphere and will lead to better ties," he said after his meeting with Singh at the latter's 7, Race Course Residence during which they held one-on-one and delegation-level talks.
He said the two leaders discussed that if South Asia has to live in peace and people have to benefit, the dialogue process has to be taken forward.
"We are trying every effort to make the dialogue process a success. It will lead to better relations," he said.
The dialogue, designed to improve relations, is going on at various levels, Aziz said hoping it will lead to "tangible conclusion".
He referred to the Defence Secretary-level talks to be held in Islamabad on April 6 and expressed confidence that there will be "substantive" progress on Siachen and Sir Creek.
The two leaders also discussed the proposed IPI gas pipeline and agreed to move on the project very quickly to ensure its early completion. The IPI issue came up for discussion during Aziz's meeting with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Tuesday evening.
The two sides underlined their commitment to pursue the project "sincerely and seriously" and emphasised that everything will be done to finalise it.
They expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far in the technical level talks among the three sides on the "peace pipeline" project.
As part of enhancing people to people contacts and trade relations, Singh and Aziz agreed to increase air links and grant permission to the banks of the respective countries to open branches.
During the meeting, Aziz raised the issue of Samjhauta Express blasts, underscoring Pakistan's interest in the probe findings. Aziz said Singh assured him that the Pakistani side would be kept informed and provided details from time to time.
Singh expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the blasts that killed 68 people, most of them Pakistanis, travelling from Delhi to Lahore.
Aziz told Singh that Pakistan was issuing more visas to Sikh pilgrims to visit shrines. Pakistan offered to export cement to India taking advantage of the duty reduction announced by the Manmohan Singh government.
Pakistan's readiness to export cement to India came in the backdrop of the government doing away with countervailing duty and additional customs duty, making imports more viable.
The issue of prisoners also came up for discussion, with both leaders agreeing that status of each of them would be looked into.
At least 390 Indian fishermen and 149 other civilians are imprisoned in various Pakistani jails and New Delhi has been pressing Islamabad to ensure humane treatment to them in the wake of reports of ill-treatment meted out to them. Aziz said 500 Pakistanis were imprisoned in India.