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The Prime Minister returned yesterday from New Delhi after a short visit on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He attended his oath taking ceremony, had a constructive bilateral meeting and also called on the President of India. The Prime Minister undertook this visit with a clear vision in mind, based on strategic calculation and not just for a photo-op. In order to make this vision a reality, the starting point was for economic revival and development. Without economic revival we cannot fight poverty and unemployment or protect the sovereignty of Pakistan. However a robust economic agenda which is the priority of both the governments cannot be advanced without peace in the region. Both the leaders agreed that they had the mandate and their respective tenures ahead of them to meet the hope and aspirations of one and half billion people of the two countries.

Although, the visit was essentially a ceremonial occasion, where Pakistan together with other SAARC countries participated in the spirit of SAARC fraternity, the actual result and outcome was much better than we expected.

The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere where both the sides expressed their views on all issues of common concern. There was clear recognition of each other’s concerns and the need for mechanisms to address them. During the meeting it was clear that both sides were of the view that confrontation should be converted into meaningful cooperation.

Although the government was only one day old, the Indian Prime Minister recognized the need for a dialogue process to address all bilateral issues that stand in the way of the good relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister agreed that it was a historic opportunity for both the countries to mark a new beginning in bilateral ties. Both felt the need to turn a new page in our relations.

The Prime Minister recalled the Lahore Declaration and expressed his desire to pick up the threads from where it had to be left on in October 1999. As you are aware, the Lahore Declaration of February 1999 calls for both the governments to intensify their efforts to resolve all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. It also calls on the two governments to refrain from intervention and interfering in each other’s internal affairs. The Declaration provides a comprehensive framework to carry forward the relationship by addressing each other’s concerns and working on the common agenda.

The issue of terrorism also came up for discussion. Prime Minister informed his Indian counterpart that terrorism was a mutual concern and Pakistan had suffered enormously from this menace. The people and government of Pakistan are serious and committed to fighting terrorism in their own national interest.

Questions have now been raised on whether the issue of Mumbai trial, Samjhota express and other terrorist attacks were discussed. As you all are aware, all aspects of terrorism have been discussed at different levels in our region. We believe that such issues can be handled only through constant interaction between the concerned authorities of the two countries. Brief discussion also took place on trade and other confidence building measures.

Following the delegation to delegation meeting the two Prime Ministers held a one-on-one meeting in which issues of concern to both sides were discussed, including the disputes that have so far hampered advancement of bilateral relations.

It was agreed that two Foreign Secretaries would need to meet soon on mutually convenient dates to discuss the way forward.

28th May, 2014

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