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Khurshid meets Sharif's advisor on foreign affairs

world Updated: Jul 02, 2013 11:54 IST

Indian external affairs minister Salman Khurshid met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's special advisor on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Brunei on Tuesday.

The two leaders reportedly discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest to the two countries during their 20 to 25-minute-long meeting.

This was the first high level dialogue between Pakistan and India since Sharif became Pakistan's Prime Minister after May 11 general elections.

Khurshid and Aziz were attending the ASEAN foreign ministers meet.

Talks between the two were on the cards after Sharif had made several positive statements about improving Pakistan's ties with India during his election campaign and about giving New Delhi most favoured nation status. He also spoke about speeding up the trial of the 26/11 accused.

Speaking to media after his meeting with Khurshid, Aziz said: "We have reviewed the various steps in the CBMs' (confidence building measures) and in the composite dialogue that has been going on. We discussed ways of fast tracking them, because this is the part both sides want to accelerate, and this (meeting) is in response to that."

"We have agreed for different groups to meet in the next two to three months. People-to-people contact, visa relaxation regime has already been agreed. Trade meetings will also take place. There are number of steps being taken up and we hope that the two PMs' (Prime Ministers') can meet hopefully on the sidelines of the UNGA. We are providing great political impetus to this dialogure process."

As far as sentiments are concerned, India has also shown that it wants to carry their relationship further and make it much more positive, but obviously, in terms of mechanics, we have fast track the process, as I just mentioned on various composite dialogue processes.

I have no doubts in my mind that both countries are of the view that the economic relationship as well as the CBMs will give further strength to bilateral relations," Aziz said.

On his part, Khurshid said that the Pakistan government has once again extended an invitation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan, and PM has responded to it warmly.

"Most important is that there is political will to take these ties forward. This is important for the relationship and for finding resolution to contentious issues. First of all, there is a need to take people-to-people contacts forward and to strengthen our institutional contacts," said Khurshid.

"We have to move forward with the vision that has been given to both of our governments over the years. We both remain committed to this, and it is important that we show quick progress, and we reciprocate this vision and determination on the part of the new government of Pakistan," he added

Khurshid further said, "We will want to show specific steps moving forward. We are looking for dates for (meetings of the) Joint Working Groups under the Joint Commission in July and August."

"As we are ready to receive the judicial commission to cross examine prisoners on our side, we should also proceed to look at the humanitarian issues," the Khurshid said.

"We have requested the government of Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of the prisoners who are fishermen. A very important suggestion has been made by Aziz that we should find technological ways of assisting people from not straying from one side to the other," he added.

Referring specifically to the 26/11 trial, he said, "This is what we have discussed, and as I have told you. It is time now to move forward."