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Pakistan calls for talks with India to bridge trust gap

Pakistan today called for "sustained and meaningful" dialogue with India after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a trust deficit was the main obstacle in ties between the two countries.

world Updated: May 24, 2010 19:17 IST

Pakistan called on Monday for "sustained and meaningful" dialogue with India after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a trust deficit was the main obstacle in ties between the two countries.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the first year of the second term of the UPA government, Singh said India was willing to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan but "the trust gap is (the) biggest problem".

Pakistan said it agreed that mistrust should be dispelled.

"Obviously, there is a mutual trust deficit and we need to build trust between our two countries on solid foundations so that our two countries and our people can live in peace and prosperity," said Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.

"To this end, Pakistan looks forward to a sustained and meaningful engagement with India with a view to free our relations from all disputes and conflicts."

Relations between the neighbours, who have fought three wars since 1947, went into a freeze after the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, that killed 166 people.

But Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani met on the sidelines of South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation (SAARC) last month and agreed to get talks going again to tackle their disputes.

For India, the main issue in its relations with Pakistan is security, with Islamist militants, who India says are backed by Pakistan, attacking Indian security forces in the disputed Kashmir region and launching attacks in Indian cities.

Pakistan says the core dispute is over Kashmir, which both countries claim in full but rule in part. Talking to leaders of Pakistan-ruled Kashmir, Gilani said his government remained committed to a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

"There is an imperative need to end the long legacy of hostility and distrust and to work towards a peaceful solution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir," Gilani's office quoted him as saying in a statment.

Pakistan would continue to support the "just cause" of Kashmiri people, he said.