Pakistan, India agree on good ties

2015-12-25 20:16
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Rahmat Gul, AP)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Rahmat Gul, AP)

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Islamabad - The leaders of Pakistan and India agreed Friday to work for good neigbourly relationship in talks during a brief stopover by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore.

Modi was received by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after he landed at Allama Iqbal International Airport in the city while on his way home from Kabul where he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and addressed parliament.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said that Pakistan welcomed the initiative of the prime minister of India to visit Lahore.

"Both leaders expressed their desire to carry forward the dialogue process for the larger good of the peoples of the two countries. The two prime ministers agreed to continue and enhance contacts and work together to establish good neighbourly relations," he tweeted.

The two leaders met for about an hour at Sharif's private Raiwind estate residence in the suburbs of Lahore, another official said.

The unannounced trip was the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Pakistan since 2004 and also Modi's first trip to the rival neighbour since being elected last year.

India's Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Pakistan in 2004.

Modi earlier spoke with Sharif, who turned 66 on Friday, over the phone and wished him a happy birthday.

He was scheduled to visit Pakistan for a regional summit next year.

"That's like a statesman. Ties with neighbours should be like this," Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj wrote on Twitter in Hindi.

Border disputes, terror accusations

India and Pakistan have had troubled ties for decades over border disputes and terrorism accusations. The South Asian neighbours this month agreed to resume stalled peace talks.

While the Indian media said the meeting was significant and showed that the Modi government's diplomacy had a new radical approach to ties with Pakistan, the main opposition Congress party criticised the secrecy surrounding the visit.

"You do not conduct diplomacy at the apex level in such a cavalier manner," Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari told reporters, adding that India-Pakistan ties were of a most "complex and complicated" nature.

Modi's trip was well received in Pakistan. Defence analyst Talat Masood said that the surprise visit shows a change of heart in India.

"It means the Indian attitude towards Pakistan is changing and it is a good sign for the peace and development of this region," he told state-run Pakistan Television.

Former diplomat and foreign policy expert Aziz Ahmad Khan said the unannounced visit was a good gesture by the Indian leader.

Modi and Sharif last met in Paris on the margins of the climate summit in November.

That impromptu meeting reportedly laid the ground for talks between the national security advisors of the countries. Those talks were also held secretly in Bangkok on December 6. Swaraj visited Islamabad for a conference on Afghanistan days later.

The two nations gained independence from Britain in August 1947 and have fought three wars since then.

Read more on:    india  |  pakistan

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