Take credible action against terror, Manmohan to tell Zardari (Lead)

June 16th, 2009 - 12:07 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Manish Chand
Yekaterinburg (Russia), June 15 (IANS) In the first formal contact between India and Pakistan since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here Tuesday with a clear message that the resumption of dialogue will depend on Islamabad’s “credible action” against terrorism.

Manmohan Singh and Zardari will hold a half-an-hour meeting in the Silver Room of Hotel Hyatt Regency in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, the industrial town located nearly 1,400 km from Moscow and famous as the site of the execution of the last Tsar of Russia and his family.

The two leaders will meet on the sidelines of the six-nation summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) where India and Pakistan, along with Iran and Mongolia, are invited as observers.

Manmohan Singh arrived here Monday night to attend two back-to-back regional summits of the BRIC (an informal grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China) and the SCO. Besides meeting Zardari, Manmohan Singh will also meet Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters aboard the prime minister’s special aircraft.

Despite Pakistan’s perceived inaction against the architects and executors of the Mumbai mayhem, that stalled composite dialogue between the two sides nearly seven months ago, Manmohan Singh’s willingness to meet Zardari is being projected by the Indian side as a statesman-like gesture to make peace with an estranged neighbour.

The meeting should not, however, be seen as “a sign of softening or weakening” of India’s position on terrorism emanating from Pakistan, official sources pointed out.

The 30-minute scheduled meeting has taken many by surprise in view of repeated statements from the Indian government that there will not be any dialogue with Pakistan till what they call credible action to punish and prosecute the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage in November last year.

Ahead of the meeting, highly placed sources pointed out that the meeting should not be elevated into formal dialogue with structured agenda and emphasized that there is no lessening of pressure on Pakistan to act against the infrastructure of terrorism.

“There is no structured meeting or agenda. It’s a meeting between the two leaders as they happen to be in the same place at the same time.”

“We feel that the Pakistan government is responsible for terrorism coming from there. We expect strong credible action against terrorism. There is no change in our position,” sources said. We are not going to back down on any of the demands, they stressed.

The meeting is also meant to send a signal to terrorists in the neighbouring country that they don’t hold a veto over the peace process between the two countries. Terrorists are not going to determine the peace process between the two countries, the sources said.

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