Colombo, August 2 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged Pakistan to strengthen its bilateral ties with India by implementing its commitments to end terrorist activities from its soil in "letter and spirit" and ensure an "atmosphere free from terrorism" in the subcontinent.
The Prime Minister is in Colombo to attend the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit being held on August 2 and 3.
Singh said, "The UPA Government has made "substantial progress" in relations with Pakistan. Still, there exists a large constituency for peace in both our countries, and there is an opportunity to move ahead."
"India seeks to establish peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan. We are committed to addressing all outstanding issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through bilateral discussions," the Prime Minister said.
"However, improvement in our relations requires an atmosphere that is free from terrorism," he said and that the respective governments have a duty to ensure that their citizens prosper and progress in a secure environment.
He further said that terrorism weakens and undermines efforts towards peace and normalisation, and that only through partnerships and cooperation can India and Pakistan harness their respective strengths.
While referring to the bombing of Indian embassy in Kabul, the Prime Minister said, "The scourge of terrorism must be removed from our midst and criminals and terrorists must never go unpunished."
The Heads of State or Government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka established SAARC on December 8, 1985.
It provides a platform for the peoples of South Asia to work together in a spirit of friendship, trust and understanding and aims to accelerate the process of economic and social development in member States. By Naveen Kapoor