Manmohan greets new Pakistan PM, hopes for ‘best ever’ ties

March 25th, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday congratulated Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani on taking up office and expressed hope that both their countries would accelerate the peace process in the days to come and forge a “mutually beneficial partnership”. In a telephone call to Gillani, Manmohan Singh expressed the hope that India-Pakistan relations can evolve to become the “best ever”, a statement by the prime minister’s office said here.

Singh also hoped Gillani would build on the initiatives taken by his predecessors, former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff, and also of President Pervez Musharaf to improve bilateral relations, the statement said.

Earlier in the day, Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to Gillani, who was sworn in Pakistan’s prime minister Tuesday, re-affirming India’s “commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with Pakistan.”

“We see a stable, prosperous and democratic Pakistan as being in the interest of India and the region,” Singh wrote in his letter to Gillani.

Gillani was administered the oath of office by President Pervez Musharraf in the central hall of the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad Tuesday.

Alluding to “a strong public sentiment in both countries in favour of accelerating the peace process”, Manmohan Singh hoped that the two countries can “build upon the progress already achieved and work expeditiously, through the dialogue process, towards agreed solutions of pending issues.”

“Leading personalities of the coalition that will form your government have been strong advocates of friendly ties between our two countries and have made important contributions to the peace process,” Manmohan Singh wrote, referring to the positive statements about the peace process that emanated from the new dispensation after the Feb 18 polls in Pakistan.

“We have an opportunity to transform our relationship into the close, cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership that should be normal between neighbours like India and Pakistan,” he wrote.

“I look forward to working closely with you towards an objective that I am confident you share,” he said, setting the tone for the next round of the composite dialogue that the two countries are expected to launch next month.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon will go to Islamabad next month to review with his Pakistani counterpart the fourth round of composite dialogue between the two countries that concluded last year. This will be followed by the visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Pakistan in May.

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