Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday said peaceful solution of the Kashmir issue is a "cornerstone" of Pakistan's foreign policy and hoped that the recent steps taken by New Delhi and Islamabad would lead to "solid progress" in improving the situation in the region.
Addressing a function in Islamabad to mark Pakistan's Independence Day, Gilani referred to the meetings President Asif Ali Zardari and he had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said: "I am very optimistic about the outcome of these meetings."
"For the peace and security of the region, I expect that the steps taken by the two countries will lead to solid progress towards a better situation," he told a gathering that included federal ministers, parliamentarians and the three service chiefs.
"On the foundation of equality and in light of the principle of non-interference, we can play the role of exemplary neighbours," Gilani said.
At the same time, Gilani said, "the peaceful solution of the Kashmir issue according to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people is a cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy."
Dwelling on other aspects of the country's foreign policy, Gilani said a "peaceful and stable Afghanistan is very important for" Pakistan.
All functions in connection with the Independence Day were held indoors and entry restricted to few as part of stepped-up security measures due to threat from militants.
"Our government has taken steps from the outset to create an atmosphere of brotherhood and peace between the two neighbouring countries," Gilani said.
The relationship between the US and Pakistan has a special importance for world peace, he said.
Pakistan appreciates US President Barack Obama's efforts to build better ties with Pakistan and the speedy clearance of the Kerry-Lugar and Reconstruction Opportunity Zone bills to provide more economic aid to Islamabad would lead to greater improvement in bilateral ties, he said.
"Pakistan, as a peace-loving country and a responsible global player, has extensively contributed to attain peace both within and outside its borders.
"In this endeavour, our people, our armed forces and our law enforcement agencies have given great sacrifices. Our economy has suffered (and) our society has experienced great challenges," Gilani said.
The people and armed forces of Pakistan "courageously confronted the challenge of terrorism and extremism and continue to struggle and strive for lasting peace in an environment that is free from fear, where rule of law is the norm instead of terrorists dictating their terms", Gilani said.