New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar have reportedly responded to Pakistan’s renewed call for dialogue, having written to their respective counterparts Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi expressing the intent, a news report said Thursday.

According to a report in Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper, in the letters – responses to congratulatory missives from Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Modi’s re-election -- both Modi and Jaishankar have said India wished to have smooth ties with all countries of the region including Pakistan.

“India wants peace and development in the region. India has always given priority to the development of people and peace. Pakistan has also lauded this gesture," the report said according to unnamed officials quoting from the letters. “India is ready to hold talks with Pakistan and other countries in the region for the sake of regional peace and prosperity," the report added.

According to the report, Modi and Jaishankar have also said while holding talks, special attention should be given to find means for the elimination of terrorism from the region.

Commenting on the report, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Ravewsh Kumar said, "As per the established diplomatic practice, PM (Prime Minister) and EAM (External Affairs Minister) have responded to the congratulatory messages received from their counterparts in Pakistan. In their messages, they have highlighted that India seeks normal and cooperative relations with all neighbours, including Pakistan.

In his message, PM said "For this, it is important to build an environment of trust, free of terror, violence and hostility." EAM also emphasized the need for an 'atmosphere free from the shadow of terror and violence', Kumar added.

India’s position has been that for any meaningful talks to take place, Pakistan has to cut support for terrorist groups operating against India. Dialogue between the two sides has been on hold since 2013.

Ties between India and Pakistan have been strained following the 14 February suicide attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama region, for which a Pakistan-based terrorist group claimed responsibility. Following which India on 26 February bombed a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot region. And on 27 February, Pakistan retaliated by targeting military installations in Kashmir. Pakistan’s air raid was, however, foiled by Indian Air Force fighter jets.

Tensions have cooled down a bit since then. Modi exchanged pleasantries with Khan in Bishkek last week on the sidelines of a regional conference. According to a person familiar with the development, the exchange consisted of “usual pleasantries" and was not a meeting between the two leaders.

Pakistan foreign minister too had then said the exchange between the prime ministers was 'informal'. “The Pakistani Prime Minister congratulated him on his victory and of course he has won with a heavy mandate by defeating a major political family," Qureshi was quoted as saying by news reports.





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