Press Trust of india

Creating terrorism-free environment key for regional peace: Modi to Pak PM

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New Delhi/Islamabad, May 26:  In their first telephonic conversation after the Balakot airstrikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on Sunday that creating trust and an environment “free of violence and terrorism” was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it was Khan who called up Modi to congratulate him on his re-election.

“The Prime Minister thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his telephone call and greetings,” it said.

Recalling his initiatives in line with his government’s “neighbourhood first” policy, Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to Khan to fight poverty jointly, the MEA said.

“He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,” it added.

The telephonic conversation came amid strained bilateral ties since nearly three months following the Pulwama suicide attack and India’s subsequent aerial strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot.

Khan had also congratulated Modi on Twitter last week after the BJP’s massive victory in the general election.

Modi and Khan are scheduled to meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan next month.

After the election results on Thursday, Khan tweeted in both English and Urdu: “I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.”

In April, Khan had said he believed that there might be a better chance of peace talks with India and settling the Kashmir issue if Modi’s BJP won the general election.

Just a day before the announcement of the poll results, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj exchanged pleasantries on the sidelines of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Bishkek. Qureshi conveyed to Swaraj Pakistan’s desire to resolve all issues through dialogue.

The Pakistani foreign minister had said Islamabad was ready to restart talks with the new government in India after the election outcome was known on May 23. India has told Pakistan that talks and terrorism cannot go hand-in-hand.

Tensions flared up between the two neighbouring countries after a suicide bomber of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.

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