New York: Meeting of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh has been started today (Sunday) on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York, The News tribe reported.
It is the first Prime Ministerial level contact between the neighbouring countries.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the five-point agenda including Kashmir‚ Balochistan‚ terrorism‚ tension on Line of Control and trade enhancement during the meeting.
The Pakistani delegation include Finance Minister Ishaq Dar‚ Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif‚ Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz‚ Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi‚ Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and Pakistan’s permanent representative in the United Nations Masood Khan.
The Indian delegation includes among others External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid‚ Indian National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Manin‚ and External Affairs Secretary Sajhatta Singh.
Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Singh had termed Pakistan as the epicenter of terrorism despite claiming that he wanted to reciprocate Nawaz’s sentiments about forging a new beginning for the two countries.
Nawaz Sharif has maintained that he wants to pick up the threads of Pakistan’s relations with India from where it was left off in 1999.
“Acts of terror are unfortunate but they should not derail the dialogue process,” Nawaz had said.
Sharif was in power when Pakistan first tested a nuclear bomb in 1998. But he also presided over one of the more upbeat episodes in recent relations with India.
He hosted then-Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee for a summit in Lahore in February 1999, where they signed a landmark declaration on avoiding nuclear conflict and opened a cross-border bus service.
Three months later, the impetus for peace was crushed when a Pakistani and Indians military started a war in Kargil, sparking fighting that left hundreds dead on both sides and could have sparked nuclear war. Sharif, who said the army acted without his knowledge, was ousted in a coup five months later.
Back in office again, Sharif is particularly keen to increase cross-border trade to jump-start Pakistan and Indian good brother hood relationship.