New Delhi: Hina Rabbani Khar said after her meeting with India's Foreign Minister today, "I am more confident today than I was when I arrived in Delhi yesterday...which is a good sign."
The 34-year-old Pakistani Foreign Minister spent the morning with SM Krishna, who is 45 years older than her. Ms Khar is her country's youngest Foreign Minister. Her trip to India is being measured carefully on both sides of the border. At a joint press conference this afternoon with Mr Krishna, she underscored the fact that she represents a younger Pakistan. This generation sees things differently, she said. (Pics:
Hina Rabbani's date with India)
Ms Khar's decision to meet with Kashmiri separatists yesterday - before her formal interaction with the government began - has irked India as a poor diplomatic move. "Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that she has conveyed India's concerns about the meeting "in a frank and candid manner." Her counterpart, Salman Bashir, responded, "In a democracy, it's our intention to reach out and we should not read more into it. This meeting cannot be construed in any manner, including intentionally, to cast any sort of shadow on today's talks." (Read: India's complete statement on Hina Rabbani's Hurriyat meet)
That blip aside, both the Foreign Ministers spoke warmly about each other at their joint press conference this afternoon. "I am satisfied at the progress achieved in this round of the resumed dialogue. Outcomes have been as per our expectations," said Mr Krishna. He said a joint statement would be issued today and that it sees both countries agreeing that terrorism poses "a continuing threat to peace and security in the region." Mr Krishna said that India and Pakistan "reiterated the undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms and manifestations." Mr Krishna said that the Foreign Ministers will meet again in Islamabad in the early part of 2012. He said he could "comfortably say that relations (between the two countries) are on the right track.... (But) we have distances to travel". (Read: Full text of India-Pakistan Joint Statement)
Ms Khar said she believes "this is a new era of bilateral cooperation" and that she wants the Indo-Pak dialogue to become an "uninterrupted and uninterruptable process." The Pakistani minister said, "I am emboldened by the comment he made that in the Commonwealth Games, after the Indian team, the Pakistani team got the most cheers...that is very encouraging for us."
Ms Khar underlined her country's commitment for "friendly, cooperative and good" neighbourly relations with India as she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and handed over an invitation to him from Yousuf Raza Gilani. (Read)