I've mandate to improve India ties: Sharif

Islamabad, Sep 17 (IANS) Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that Pakistanis have given him the mandate to improve relations with India, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

"I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region," The Nation quoted Sharif as telling Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) network in Ankara.

"We are keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for the resolution of all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir", said Sharif, who took office in June.

Sharif reached Ankara Monday on a three-day official visit.

Sharif said he had started the peace process with India when then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore in 1999.

He said the two countries were then very close to finding a settlement to the Kashmir dispute.

Sharif said his government wanted stable ties with all countries, especially the neighbouring ones.

"For the effective pursuit of our socio-economic agenda, good relations with all our neighbours are essential and a priority for my government."

He added: "Combating terrorism and extremism is one of the top priorities of my government. Terrorism and extremism are now a global menace.

"No country in the world is unaffected by it. Militancy and extremism pose a grave challenge to Pakistan's progress and development."

Turkish President Abdullah Gul Tuesday conferred his country's highest civilian award Jumhuriyet Nishan on Sharif.