India, Pak agree to conduct trade on MFN basis

PTI Addu (Maldives) | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on November 10, 2011

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani, in Addu, Maldives, on Thursday.   -  PTI

Declaring that time has come to write a “new chapter” in the history of two countries, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has decided that India will move towards Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan as both sides agreed that bilateral trade will be conducted on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis.

During an hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit, Dr Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Yousuf Raza Gilani, also decided to put in place a liberalised visa regime at the earliest and revive the Indo-Pak joint Commission that has not been in operation since 2005.

The decision to take the bilateral engagement to a new level came at their third meeting in the last 18 months after their talks at the 2010 SAARC summit in Thimphu when they decided to resume bilateral dialogue.

The two leaders, who have had meetings on several occasions in the last three years, hit it off during their talks at the Shangrilla resort here in a beach cottage besides the Indian Ocean.

After a photo opportunity at the start of the talks, they were joined by their delegations, including the Foreign Ministers, Foreign Secretaries and others. Then the one-to-one hour-long interactions started between them.

The tone was set by Dr Singh who said he always regarded Mr Gilani as a “man of peace” and that both the countries have lost much time in the past in acrimonious debates.

“The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of two countries and the era of accusations and counter-accusations should be behind us.”

In his interaction with journalists after the meeting, Dr Singh said he was very happy that Mr Gilani fully endorsed his view that the two countries had a unique opportunity and therefore the next round of talks should be more productive and result-oriented to bring them close together than ever before.

He said his belief that Mr Gilani was a man of peace was further strengthened in the last three years.

The Prime Minister said the dialogue process that started in Thimphu had yielded very positive results but more needs to be done.

“We have decided that we will resume this dialogue with the expectations that all issues which have bedeviled the relations between our two countries will be discussed with sincerity that the two countries can bring to bear on the talks.”

He said the destinies of people of India and Pakistan are closely interlinked.

Mr Gilani in his remarks said that he and Dr Singh have discussed all issues of concern to India and Pakistan.

“We had openly discussed all issues of concern, including core issues. The Prime Minister had been open. The PM placed all cards on the table and said he was ready to discuss all issues,” he said.

Mr Gilani added that core issues, including water, terrorism, Sir Creek, Siachen, trade and Kashmir were discussed.

“I think that the next round will be more constructive, more positive and will open a new chapter in the history of both the countries.”

He also thanked India for backing Pakistan in its election to a non-permanent seat at the UN security Council and for market access in the EU.

Published on November 10, 2011
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