India ready to meet Pakistan’s leaders ‘half-way’: PM

March 5th, 2008 - 7:59 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday said India was willing to meet Pakistan’s newly elected leaders “halfway” and stressed on the need for both countries “to put the past behind them” to build a new relationship based on cooperation and enduring peace. “I would like to assure the newly elected leadership of Pakistan that we seek good relations with Pakistan,” Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha, the lower house parliament.

“India wants to live in peace with Pakistan. The destinies of our two nations, I have often said, are closely interlinked,” he said in a reply indicating India’s willingness to resume composite dialogue with Pakistan as soon as a duly constituted government takes charge in that country.

“India wants to live in peace with Pakistan. The destinies of our two nations, I have often said, are closely interlinked.”

“We need to put the past behind us. We need to think about our collective destiny, our collective security, our collective prosperity,” the prime minister stressed.

“The leaders of the main political parties in Pakistan have also spoken of their interest in developing close relations and working with us to bring about … peace.”

Manmohan Singh also paid glowing tributes to the roles played by assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and former prime minister, in their efforts to promote peace between the two countries.

Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Sharif’s PML-N emerged as the two largest parties after last month’s parliamentary election, but are still in the process of working out an arrangement to form a coalition government.

He called for building an enduring framework of peace between the two neighbours who have fought three wars since they became independent in 1947.

Stressing on the burgeoning constituency of peace between India and Pakistan, he said: “I believe that in both countries there is a consensus that we must have close and cooperative relations and a framework of enduring peace.”

“I hope, sir, that the newly elected leaders in Pakistan can quickly move forward with us on this. We would welcome this and meet them halfway.”

Earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told parliament that India was ready to resume the composite dialogue with Pakistan that has stalled due to political uncertainty in days preceding Feb 18 polls in that country.

India hoped “to resolve outstanding issues and build a mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan in an atmosphere free of violence and terrorism,” he said Monday.

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