New India PM Modi holds talks with Pakistani rival

New India PM Modi holds talks with Pakistani rival
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) is greeted by his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif after Modi took the oath of office at the presidential palace in New Delhi.

NEW DELHI - India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a clampdown on terror groups while offering closer trade relations Tuesday in talks with his Pakistani counterpart during an action-packed first full day in office.

Modi, who was sworn in on Monday after a landslide election victory earlier this month, also announced a leaner team of ministers who pledged to work to fire up slowing economic growth to fulfil campaign promises.

Modi's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and other South Asian leaders invited to his inauguration was a first test on foreign policy for the 63-year-old, who has no prior diplomatic experience.

He stuck broadly to the position of the previous government, calling for action on anti-India militant groups in Pakistan and expressing hopes trade could bring the nuclear-armed rivals together.

Modi "underlined our concerns related to terrorism," Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh said in a statement after the talks.

"We want peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan. However, for such relations to proceed, it is important that terror and violence is brought to an end," Singh told reporters.

"There was discussion on trade and we noted that we were fully ready to fully normalise trade and economic relations." The two leaders shook hands and smiled for the cameras earlier in the day on the steps of a government building in central New Delhi before a 50-minute meeting that ran over its allotted time.

Sharif arrived in New Delhi on Monday for the lavish swearing-in of Modi, a former tea boy who has been elected leader of the world's largest democracy with the strongest mandate in 30 years.

The Pakistani prime minister hailed a "historic opportunity" for ties on Tuesday and said the talks had been "warm and cordial".

They had an opportunity as newly elected leaders "of meeting the hopes and aspirations of our peoples, that we will succeed in turning a new page in our relations", he said.

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