ISLAMABAD/ UFA, RUSSIA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi held a meeting in Ufa, Russia on Friday during which matters of mutual interest were discussed.
Briefing on the meeting between the two premiers, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said, “PM Nawaz reiterated his invitation to Modi to visit South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit in Pakistan in 2016 and Modi accepted it.”
“The two leaders agreed India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues.”
Pakistan, India to revive stalled dialogue
The two south Asian nuclear-tipped rivals also agreed to revive the stalled dialogue process.
According to a joint statement issued on Friday, a five point plan was announced.
Further, the foreign secretary said a meeting will be held between DG BSF and DG Pakistan Rangers which will be followed by meetings between DGMOs.
“A meeting in New Delhi will be held between two NSAs to discuss all issues connected to terrorism,” he added, pointing to a thaw in relations.
Last year, foreign secretaries of both countries were due to meet in Islamabad, but ties worsened when India cancelled the talks.
Read: Icebreaker in Ufa: Nawaz-Modi talks may help defuse tensions
“Both sides have agreed to enable a mechanism for facilitating religious tourism,” the Indian foreign secretary said, while addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan's foreign secretary.
“Both sides agreed to discuss ways and means to expedite Mumbai case trial,” Jasihankar added.
Responding to a question whether he is happy with the meeting, PM Nawaz said, “Yes.”
Further, Pakistan and India agreed to release fishermen detained on both sides of the border along with their boats within 15 days, as per a draft released by the foreign secretaries of both countries detailing on Nawaz, Modi meeting.
The two leaders held a meeting which lasted for over an hour on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Russia.
As per reports, premier's senior aide Sartaj Aziz and Special Assistant to PM on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi were present at the meeting.
Before the start of the meeting, the two leaders are said to have shaken hands with each other. This is the first meeting between the two leaders since Nawaz attended Modi's swearing-in ceremony in May 2014.
Pakistan hopes that the meeting between PM Nawaz and Modi will help defuse tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. Terming the scheduled meeting between the two leaders “a positive development”, Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said the meeting was likely to have “a positive impact on the bilateral relations at regional and international levels”.
Read: Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc
The Nawaz, Modi meeting came in the backdrop of tensions between the two neighbours that had emerged after a series of controversial statements issued by the Indian premier against Pakistan.
Modi had not only accused Pakistan of fuelling terrorism in India but also admitted that India had played a part in the break-up of Pakistan in 1971.
Politicians on both sides of the border exchanged a volley of accusations hither and thither after Modi issued the statements.
Earlier, before the meeting took place, Indian officials said they were looking at a ‘substantive’ dialogue with Islamabad with focus on terrorism and the release of Mumbai blasts alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi. Pakistani sources said the focus would be on Kashmir, according to the Times of India.
Further, on Thursday night PM Nawaz met Modi at a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a day ahead of their bilateral talks.
Both leaders exchanged pleasantries and spoke briefly when they came face-to-face at a dinner hosted for leaders of five BRICS countries and 10 SCO nations in Ufa, according to Hindustan Times.
Read: Nawaz, Modi may meet at Russia summit
BRICS is an association of five major emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Relations with Pakistan top China's agenda: President Xi
After his meeting with Modi, PM Nawaz met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ufa.
“Relations with Pakistan are very high on China's agenda,” Jinping told Nawaz.
“China wants to maintain close ties with Pakistan and is looking forward to President Mamnoon's upcoming visit to China,” he added.
The Chinese president invited the prime minister to attend the SCO meeting taking place in Beijing this year.
Reciprocating the sentiments, PM termed friendship with China a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. He appreciated his personal commitment to materialise China, Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Further, he thanked Xi for the support China has been extending to Pakistan in the country's effort to become a full member of the SCO.