Manmohan-Gilani meeting today
Need To Go Beyond Handshake: Pak
SHEIKH AHMAD/PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi/Thimphu, Apr 28: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani here Thursday on the margins of the SAARC summit, an Indian official said Wednesday, ending the suspense over the much anticipated talks between the two South Asian rivals.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the two prime ministers would meet on Thursday in the Bhutanese capital after the two sides agreed through diplomatic channels to hold the dialogue.
“It has been agreed through diplomatic channels that the prime ministers of India and Pakistan will hold a bilateral meeting tomorrow at Thimphu,” Prakash told reporters.
There was no official word on the timing and venue of the meeting but Pakistani foreign office sources said the two leaders would meet at 6.30 pm Thursday. Peace talks between India and Pakistan were stalled after the 2008 Mumbai attack that left 166 people dead. India blamed militants based in Pakistan for the attack.
This will be the first meeting between the two leaders after their wide-ranging meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh in July 2009. They had two brief encounters earlier this month in Washington where both the prime ministers were to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. Singh later said he had congratulated Gilani in Washington for the constitutional amendments in Pakistan, which made the Pakistani prime minister more powerful.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries - Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir - had met in New Delhi in February but the talks ended in a stalemate after India insisted that the composite dialogue would resume only after Pakistan prosecutes the militant leaders responsible for the Mumbai carnage. Pakistan foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said earlier that both countries have realised that there has to be a meaningful and constructive dialogue.
“If they (PM, Gilani) meet, our prime minister’s effort
will be to start such an engagement so that all the issues of terrorism and others are solved,” he said.
Basit had said the proposed meeting between the two leaders was part of a roadmap given to India by Pakistan, first in New York and then during the foreign secretary level talks in New Delhi.
‘NEED TO GO BEYOND HANDSHAKE’
Speaking to reporters in Thimphu on Tuesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said any meeting should address the need to resume a full-fledged peace dialogue.
“It’s time for India to make up its mind whether it wants to engage or not. Engagement is the only way forward,” he said.
“We need to go beyond a handshake,” Qureshi said, referring to Singh and Gilani’s cursory exchange of pleasantries at Washington earlier this month.
Qureshi said it was time for India to move forward and stop demonising Pakistan.
“We have to accept terrorism is a common challenge. It’s not us and you, it’s a collective effort,” he said.
Qureshi said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was willing to normalise ties with Pakistan but he was held back by his fellow Congress members. However, he declined from naming those elements.
Qureshi attended a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on Tuesday along with SM Krishna, his Indian counterpart, who urged member states to “rally against the forces of terrorism”.
“The South Asian region is particularly afflicted by this menace,” Krishna said.
SAARC, formed in 1985, brings together Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Bhutan is hosting the summit for the first time and it wants to focus on climate change and launch a $300m development fund for infrastructure.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 28 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 28 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 29 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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