It’s official: Manmohan to meet Zardari in Russia

June 12th, 2009 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) Putting speculation at rest, India Friday said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg next week, but clarified there would no resumption of talks till Islamabad takes tangible action against terrorists.
“They will be in the same place at the same time. They will meet, but we are not clear what sort of meeting it would be,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters when asked whether Manmohan Singh would meet Zardari in Yekaterinburg.

Manmohan Singh and Zardari will be in Yekaterinburg, an industrial city located midway between Moscow and St. Petersburg June 15-16 for the summit meeting of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

The meeting, expected June 16, will be their first since the Mumbai terror attacks stalled the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan nearly seven months ago.

Manmohan Singh will leave for Yekaterinburg Monday on a three-day visit to attend BRIC summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China that has coincided with the SCO summit June 16.

“There can be nothing more authoritative than what the prime minister said on the floor of the house,” Menon replied when asked whether the meeting between Indian and Pakistani leaders would lead to the resumption of talks.

Signalling India’s willingness to engage with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh had told parliament in a policy speech June 9 that India was willing to meet Pakistan “more than half way” if the Pakistani leadership takes strong action to prevent terorrism directed against India.

“We expect the government of Pakistan to take strong, effective and sustained action to prevent terrorism directed against India and use every means at its service to bring to justice the perpetrators of terror attacks, including the Mumbai attacks,” Manmohan Singh had said.

In the same breath, Manmohan Singh struck a conciliatory note promising India’s full cooperation if the Pakistani leadership took action on the ground against the terror infrastructure. “If the leaders of Pakistan have the courage, determination and statesmanship to take this road to peace, we will meet them more than half way,” he said.

India, along with Pakistan and Iran and Mongolia, is an observer at SCO, a security grouping where Russia and China run the show with a supporting chorus of Central Asian republics including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyztan and Tajikistan.

This will be the first SCO summit in which an Indian prime minister will be participating, Menon said.

The SCO relaxed rules for the participation of observers at its last summit in Dushanbe where it was decided that the leaders of observer countries could participate in the restricted discussions and will share the same table with the leaders of SCO members.

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