Manmohan, Gillani to meet on Saarc summit sidelines

June 9th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 9 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani would meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meet to be held in Colombo from July 27 to Aug 3, a foreign ministry official said here Monday. “There is no specific agenda for the meeting but we hope that dates for the Indian prime minister’s long awaited Pakistan visit will be finalized in the meeting,” said an official of the foreign ministry not wishing to be named.

This will be the first interaction between the newly elected government’s head with the Indian leadership.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel and would like to pick up the thread from the previous dialogue between the Pakistani and Indian leadership,” said the official adding that Pakistan strongly desires to resolve all outstanding issues between the two neighbours.

Before the prime ministers meet in Colombo, the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan will hold talks as “the sixth round of Composite Dialogue between the two countries would have started by that time”, he said.

The 15th Saarc summit will be presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before handing over the chair to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The last summit was held in New Delhi in April last year.

In the run-up to the summit, a meeting of the Saarc Terrorist Offences Monitoring Desk (STOMD) was held in Islamabad in March this year. It was followed by the fourth meeting of the Saarc Working Group on Energy, a meeting of the expert group on networking among police authorities of member states and the seventh Saarc Conference on Cooperation in Police Matters.

The reports of all these meetings will be presented to the Saarc ministers conference before the leadership summit.

Meanwhile, referring to the four-day 100th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) of the two countries held in Lahore from May 31, the official said the difference of opinion on water-sharing issues is always a healthy sign and “it shows that both sides are committed to resolving the issues”.

“We believe that continuous talking helps in understanding each other’s views and it helps in narrowing the differences.”

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