Leaders of Pakistan and India address Mumbai attack in historic meeting
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JUDY WOODRUFF: India’s new prime minister made headlines this week by inviting the leader of its contentious neighbor, Pakistan, to attend his inauguration yesterday. The pair followed up with a meeting today, prompting some to wonder if a mending of fences between the countries is possible in the near future.Jeffrey Brown reports.
JEFFREY BROWN: It was a highly anticipated face-to-face between nuclear-armed rivals. On his first full day on the job, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, met with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, for almost an hour. Sharif, who took office just last year, described the conversation as cordial.
NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister, Pakistan: I pointed out that we were at the beginning of our respective tenures with a clear mandate. This provides us the opportunity of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our peoples that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations.
JEFFREY BROWN: India’s foreign secretary said Modi pressed the issue of terrorism.
SUJATHA SINGH, Foreign Secretary, India: It was conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory and territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India. We also expect that necessary steps will be taken in the Mumbai terror attack trial under way in Pakistan.
JEFFREY BROWN: The Mumbai attack, in 2008, left 163 people dead at the hands of Pakistani militants. India has complained that Pakistan has slow-walked the investigation, and that the perpetrators must be put on trial.
Well before Mumbai, the two rivals had a contentious, violent history. They have fought four wars since 1947. And they have consistently battled over the northern region of Kashmir. Indeed, Modi’s invitation to Sharif to attend his inauguration was also something of a surprise, since Modi’s Hindu nationalist party has long advocated a tough stance on Pakistan.
Many in Pakistan remain wary of Modi, who was accused of failing to protect Muslims during religious riots in Gujarat state in 2002, when he was chief minister there. For now, though, the door to rapprochement is open. The two nations plan to continue talks at the foreign minister level.