Brunei: External Affairs Minister of India Salman Khurshid on Tuesday morning met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. The meeting between the two lasted for about 20 minutes.
This is the first high level dialogue between Pakistan and India since Sharif assumed Prime Minister's office after May 11 elections and also also after killing of two Indian soldiers at the LoC by Pakistani troops.
Khurshid and Aziz were attending the ASEAN foreign ministers meet. Talks between the two were on the cards after the Sharif government was sworn-in in Pakistan. Sharif, during his election campaign, has made several positive statements of improving the ties with India and giving it the most favoured nation status. He also spoke on speeding up the 26/11 trial.
In June, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy Satinder Lambah had also travelled to Pakistan to meet with Sharif.
Salman Khurshid is in Brunei to attend three key meetings with ASEAN as relations with the 10-member bloc are a key part of India's Look East policy and bilateral trade is slated to touch $100 billion in two years.
In Brunei, Khurshid will attend the 11th India-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. He will also participate in the third East Asia Summit Ministerial Meeting of foreign ministers and the 20th ASEAN Regional Forum meeting on July 1 and 2.
As part of efforts to deepen its cooperation with ASEAN, India last week launched the ASEAN India Centre in New Delhi.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Partnership with the ASEAN countries constitutes the "core" of India's Look East policy with the combined population of India and the major Southeast Asian bloc working out to 1.8 billion, around one-fourth of the global population, and the combined GDP of the region being around $3 trillion, Khurshid had said at the launch of the centre.
India has 25 mechanisms that underscore its interaction with the ASEAN, including six at the ministerial level - on foreign affairs, trade, agriculture, tourism, environment, and new and renewable energy.
India is also an active participant in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations between ASEAN and its Free Trade Agreement Partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
During the East Asia Summit ministerial meeting, Khurshid would inform the participants of the progress made on the Nalanda University that is coming up in Rajgir, Bihar, on the lines of the ancient university.
Brunei, the chair of the meet, has proposed two new initiatives - on food security and setting up a Track-2 study group.
Khurshid is expected to hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from China, Bangladesh, Australia, Indonesia and Brunei on the sidelines of the East Asia ministerial meeting.
(With Additional Information From IANS)