Ahead of SAARC summit Indo- Pak foreign secretaries meet
Discuss JK, militancy, trade
DR SINGH TO MEET GILANI ON THURSDAY
Addu Atoll/New Delhi, Nov 8: Ahead of the SAARC summit, the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan Tuesday met in the picturesque Maldives island of Addu to firm up the agenda for bilateral talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani later this week.
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai met his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir and discussed a swathe of bilateral issues, including militancy, Jammu and Kashmir, cooperation with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) framework and ways to intensify trade and investment between the two countries.
Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik was also present during the meeting, held on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.
Dr Manmohan Singh is expected to meet Gilani Thursday.
The two prime ministers last met in March when Gilani came to watch the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final at Mohali, but this will be the first formal talks between the leaders of India and Pakistan since they last met in Thimphu last year on the margins of the SAARC summit.
"Both sides reviewed the status of bilateral relations with a view to carrying forward the process of dialogue. They expressed satisfaction on the engagement process," said a statement by Pakistan's high commission in New Delhi.
"They also discussed matters relating to the forthcoming meeting between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India in the Maldives," the statement said.
"The talks were held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere. It was agreed that stable, normal and predictable relations between Pakistan and India were in the interest of both countries and the region as a whole," the statement said.
"They met, but I cannot comment on their bilateral matters and what they discussed," Maldivian Foreign Secretary Ahmed Naseer told reporters in Addu Atoll after a meeting of SAARC officials that finalized the declaration to be approved by the foreign ministers of eight South Asian countries.
Naseer said foreign secretaries also discussed greater trade cooperation among members of the SAARC and said Pakistan's decision announced last week to grant the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India had also figured in their talks.
Naseer added that senior officials of SAARC countries also discussed the existing bilateral trade arrangements, but did not comment on Pakistan's decision to grant MFN status to India.
India and Pakistan resumed their stalled peace process early this year.
India has taken note of some "some positive indicators in the last few weeks" like Pakistan's quick action in releasing an Indian military helicopter and crew within hours after it strayed into the Pakistani territory last month and the granting of the Most Favoured Nation status to India.
Taking note of "indications of forward movement" in bilateral relations, Mathai said said that all aspects of bilateral relations will be discussed between the leaders of the two countries.
India is also hoping that there will be greater clarity on the MFN issue, which has become entangled in conflicting statements from Islamabad, when Manmohan Singh meets Gilani. (IANS)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
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