Manmohan Singh keeps ` his distance’ from Zardari at SCO summit

June 16th, 2009 - 1:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh By Naveen Kapoor

Yekatarinburg (Russia), June 16 (ANI): That India and Pakistan are unlikely to kick start the suspended composite dialogue process any time soon, came out loud and clear at the start of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit that began here on Tuesday.

During the opening address of the summit host - Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was seen sitting at a distance from Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

The seating arrangement was such that Iran President Mohammad Ahmedinejad separated Dr. Singh from President Zardari.

Both Singh and Zardari are scheduled to have a one-to-one meeting this afternoon on the sidelines of the SCO summit.This will be the first top-level meeting between leaders of both countries since last year’s Mumbai terror attacks.

According to official sources, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Shahid Malik, had officially requested last week and conveyed it to Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon that President Zardari would like to meet Dr Singh on the sidelines of the SCO.

However, officials maintain that this meeting should not be perceived as a resumption of dialogue, as India is consistently saying that dialogue cannot be resumed until Pakistan destroys terrorist infrastructure existing on its soil.

Dr. Singh is anticipated to take up the issue of terrorism and convey the Indian stand on the steps taken by Pakistan to nail down the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks. Dr Singh is also likely to express India’s concern over the prime accused of 26/11 Hafeez Sayeed’ s controversial release by a Pakistani court recently.

Indian officials, accompanying Prime Minister to Russia, are of the view that Pakistan’s action against terrorism is far from adequate. They also believe that it is the single issue of cross border terrorism which has brought Indo-Pak relationship to such a pass and India is not going to back down on terrorism when the Dr Singh meets Zardari.

Officials reiterated that India had suspended dialogue with Pakistan because of terrorism. “We expect strong and credible action against terrorism from Pakistani Government,” while further adding: “terrorists are not going to determine our agenda.” (ANI)

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