As career diplomats, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistan counter part Salman Bashir go a long way back. Both were envoys to China for their respective countries during the same time.
But on the slippery terrain on which India-Pakistan ties stand, such rapport is no insurance against things going wrong.
However, the press conference in Islamabad on Friday seemed to have been orchestrated well, and the script didn't go haywire — like it has happened many times in the past.
The initial idea of separate press conferences gave way to a joint one, and Rao and Bashir did air their stated positions to an extent.But there were no signs of belligerence and compulsion to play to the domestic galleries. Bashir, who once described the proof given by India on 26/11 as literature — but corrected himself soon enough—was very measured on Friday, and listened to "lady foreign secretary" intently as she went on to make her position clear.
Rao repeated what she has been saying about bringing a satisfactory closure to the Mumbai attack case to normalise relations. Nowhere at sight was her intention to make it "the issue" to be addressed before taking about other subjects.
Bashir on his part said he understands India's concerns, and called for both the countries fighting the menace jointly and objectively.
"This issue of terrorism requires objectivity and we hope and expect it to be addressed in a collaborative manner," he said—and his tone not so accusatory.
It couldn't have been more reconciliatory when it came to mentioning the issue of terrorism in the joint statement
"The foreign secretaries noted that both countries recognise that terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security and they reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations," the joint statement said.
Rao also said Kashmir issue could not be solved under the shadow of gun. The confidence building measures includes launch of the Kargil-Skardu bus link, increasing frequency of cross-Kashmir bus link between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and an increase in the number of trading days across the LoC.