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Pakistan bats for PM-Sharif meeting to 'build trust'

August 16, 2013 18:03 IST

Pakistan on Friday said a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly would be an "useful opportunity" to build trust and consolidate ties.

The "anticipated meeting" between Sharif and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New York in September would be an "opportunity for talks at the highest level", Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said.

"Should that meeting take place, as indicated by (Sharif), it would be a useful opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue to discuss steps to further build trust and consolidate this relationship," Chaudhry told a weekly news briefing.

Responding to a question about Dr Singh's remarks on Thursday -- that ties with Pakistan could improve only if it prevented the use of its territory for any anti-India activity -- the spokesman said, "We have always expressed our firm conviction that Pakistan does not allow its territory to be used for terrorism anywhere in the world."

Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and is cooperating with the world community to fight the "common enemy".

The current Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz government is in the process of framing a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, he said.

Bilateral relations soured after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control last week. Incidents of firing along the ceasefire line have increased tensions between the two sides.

Prime Minister Sharif has said that Pakistan will pursue a policy of "restraint and responsibility" as well as a policy of "talks and dialogue to address all issues of mutual interest", the spokesman remarked.

Chaudhry further said "necessary channels", including diplomatic and military ones, were open with India as Pakistan wants "tension-free relations".

He added, "We believe that through constructive engagement and uninterrupted dialogue, tensions can be reduced and relations improved."

Pakistan had communicated its concern over the tensions along the LoC to the Indian government, he said.

"It is our hope that in the larger interest of peace in the region, tensions along the LoC will be reduced, and ceasefire will be respected by the Indian side," he said.

Asked about the grant of Most Favoured Nation-status to India, Chaudhry said there were "certain issues" that needed to be addressed by both countries, "such as creating a consensus among stakeholders within Pakistan and persuading the Indian government to remove non-tariff barriers".

"As soon as the dialogue resumes, all these issues will be discussed to move towards a normal trading relationship between the two countries," he said.

Pakistan missed a deadline to give MFN-status to India in January. India granted MFN-status to Pakistan in 1996.

In response to another question about a report in the Indian media about the involvement of Pakistani intelligence operatives in a bid to target the Indian envoy in Kabul, Chaudhry contended that these allegations were "most ludicrous".

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