Expressing happiness over meeting his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar at a reception in New York on Monday, external affairs minister SM Krishna said such social exchanges will go a long way in normalising relations with the neighbouring country.
Krishna met Khar briefly at a reception hosted by the Pakistani Mission to the UN at an up-scale New York hotel. Khar later escorted Krishna to his vehicle as he left the reception.
Noting that the Pakistani delegation was "obviously very very happy" with his presence at the reception, Krishna said he too was "very pleased" with his visit to the social gathering.
Krishna said Khar too expressed pleasure with his presence. Krishna quoted Khar, who told him that "look at all the smiles at every Pakistani face."
"She was extremely warm and I was very pleased that I did go to the reception," Krishna told reporters later.
He said such social exchanges are part of the overall attempt that "we have been making with all seriousness to normalise relations with Pakistan."
"These gestures will certainly go a long way in improving bilateral relationship. I am happy that I did go there," he said.
Echoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's sentiments that a country cannot choose its neighbours, Krishna said it is necessary to normalise relations with Pakistan.
"The fact is Pakistan happens to be a close neighbour with which we have connection, both in terms of civilisation, we have same common history, background and language. Hence it is necessary to normalise relationship" with it.