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

  • Imran Khan had on May 23 congratulated Modi on Twitter on his electoral triumph
  • Modi and Imran Khan are slated to come face to face at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Bishkek in June

NEW DELHI : Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his desire to work for peace, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal said.

During the phone call, Modi underlined the importance of creating trust and an environment free of terrorism for peace in South Asia.

“PM spoke to PM Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in Lok Sabha elections in India. PM expressed his desire for both countries to work together for betterment of their peoples," Faisal said in a Twitter post.

“Reiterating his vision for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia, the Prime Minister said he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Modi to advance these objectives," Faisal’s second post said.

According to a release from the Indian foreign ministry, Modi “thanked the Prime Minister of Pakistan for his telephone call and greetings".

“Recalling his initiatives in line with his government’s neighbourhood first policy, Prime Minister Modi referred to his earlier suggestion to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to fight poverty jointly. He stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region," the release stated.

Khan had on Thursday posted a congratulatory message on Twitter saying he looked forward to work with Modi on furthering peace in South Asia. “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," Khan said in the post.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday scored a major win by snaring 303 seats in the 545-member Parliament.

In his response to Khan’s post congratulating him on Thursday, Modi tweeting:" Thank you PM @ImranKhanPTI. I warmly express my gratitude for your good wishes. I have always given primacy to peace and development in our region."

The exchanges between the two leaders came after a period of heightened tensions between the two countries earlier this year after the 14 February suicide attack on an Indian security convoy that killed 40 paramilitary personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama region. With a Pakistan-based terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, claiming the Pulwama bombing, New Delhi on 26 February launched a “pre-emptive" strike on a terrorist training facility in Pakistan’s Balakot region. Pakistan retaliated a day later launching an air raid on Indian military facilities in Kashmi, thus deepening tensions between the two countries. Pakistan also shot down an Indian Air Force jet and captured the pilot of the downed aircraft, who was handed back to India two days later.

Talks between the two countries have been at a standstill since 2013 but there has been speculation that the two sides could explore possibilities for engagement after the polls in India. Modi is set to come face to face with Imran Khan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Bishkek in June. Last month, Khan told a group of journalists that there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settling of the Kashmir dispute if Modi's party -- the Bharatiya Janata Party -- won the general elections a second time.

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