India's Modi writes letter to Pakistan PM, desires 'cordial relations’

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart, saying he would like to 'mend' relations, officials said.

Modi wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday to congratulate him on the country’s annual Pakistan Day, which commemorates a resolution passed on March 23, 1940 when the subcontinent was under British colonial rule. Two senior officials, who asked to remain annoymous in line with government policy, confirmed what was said in the letter.

“As a neighbouring country, India desires cordial relations with the people of Pakistan,” Modi wrote in the letter, but added: “For this, an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative.” In a post on Twitter, Asad Umar, a senior Pakistani minister, welcomed Modi’s letter, calling it a “message of goodwill”. The message from Modi follows a series of moves and statements signalling rapprochement. The two sides are currently holding talks on sharing Indus river water in New Delhi. The development comes days after Khan expressed his desire for good relations with India but said the first step should be taken by India as his past peace 'overtures' were not positively received. Modi’s letter also came days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called for a peaceful resolution in the disputed region of Kashmir and for peace talks with India while speaking at a seminar on security issues in Islamabad last week. Last month, the militaries of both countries released a [rare] joint statement announcing a ceasefire along a disputed border in Kashmir, having exchanged fire hundreds of times in recent months. The disputed Himalayan region is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.