Making the first effort to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries, Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan on Thursday in Islamabad, discussed all issues of mutual concern with New Delhi flagging its core concern of terrorism emanating from that country.
Meeting for the second time in four months, Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir described their parleys as "cordial" and "constructive" during which they tried to "understand each other's position" and concern.
Rao, the first senior Indian official to travel to Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, asserted that the orientation of the re-engagement between the two countries was to look at the reasons why there was a trust deficit and how it can be bridged.
"We discussed all issues, obviously our core concerns on terrorism were also articulated," Rao told a joint press conference with Bashir after their meeting.
She also noted that Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had assured his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Thimphu in April that Pakistan will not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against India.
"We believe that it is an important commitment and what we also believe is that we should jointly work together towards our goal of resolution of outstanding issues," she said. After his meeting with Rao to prepare ground for the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the two countries here on July 15, Bashir said he felt "much more optimistic" about a good outcome at the talks.
He said the two countries should "work towards restoring confidence and building trust with a view to make it possible to have comprehensive, sustained and substantial dialogue."
"The meeting was marked with a great deal of cordiality, sincerity and earnestness. The dialogue was very constructive...We have been able to review comprehensively the state of our bilateral relations. All issues of concern and interests were touched upon," Bashir said.
Rao said the discussions were not only "exploratory", but the two sides also tried to "understand each other's position."
The Indian Foreign Secretary said both countries must "deny the terrorist elements any opportunity to derail the peace process."
Both sides also noted that Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik would discuss terrorism and hoped that it will help in strengthening and solidifying the efforts to address the issue.
Chidambaram will meet Malik tomorrow on the sidelines of SAARC Home Ministers Meeting here. The both sides also exchanged proposals on outstanding issues including on Kashmir, humanitarian issues and terrorism, diplomatic sources said. PT