PM Modi, Sharif shake hands, hold talks

| Friday, July 10, 2015 - 10:44
First Published |

Modi, Sharif shake hands, hold talks

Ufa (Russia):  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook hands warmly with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif as they sat down for bilateral talks here on Friday.

The bilateral talks on the sidelines of the SCO summit come more than a year after they held talks on May 26 in New Delhi.

The talks are expected to provide forward movement to bilateral ties that have seen a downward slide over the past year.

"Neighbourhood engagement. PM @narendramodi meets PM Nawaz Sharif on sidelines of SCO Summit," tweeted ministry of external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Modi and Sharif met informally and exchanged pleasantries on Thursday night at a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the BRICS-SCO summit delegates.

India and Pakistan are set to be absorbed as full-fledged members of the China-led SCO on Friday.

All issues, including terrorism and trade, are expected to be on the table during the around 30-minute talks.

The constant firing on the border is likely to feature in the talks, especially as a BSF trooper was killed in cross-border firing.

The release of 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is to be taken up too. India is expected to voice its concerns over Lakhvi's release by a Pakistani court.

Ways of boosting cross-border trade are also likely to figure.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah had said in Islamabad on Thursday that the meeting between the two prime ministers is "expected to have a positive impact on bilateral relations and regional and international levels".

Modi and Sharif met in November last year during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, but they did not hold any bilateral meeting.

The two leaders had held a bilateral meeting on May 26 last year during the swearing-in of Modi.

The meeting comes as both countries are set to be absorbed as permanent members into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation grouping.

The US has welcomed the meeting between Modi and Sharif, saying the tension between the two South Asian neighbours is not in anyone's interest.

"We welcome the meeting between Indian and Pakistani leaders on the sidelines of this conference," State Department Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Thursday.

"We also welcome any steps that both countries can take to try to reduce the tensions. That's been our longstanding position," Kirby said.

"We want to see the tensions reduced, and we want to see these issues resolved bilaterally between the two countries. It's in nobody's interest for the tensions to rise and to increase, and for the tensions in the region to become less stable in many ways than they already are," he added.

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