Manmohan-Zardari meet to be official but it’s not ‘resumption of dialogue’: Sources

June 15th, 2009 - 10:32 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh By Naveen Kapoor

Yekaterinburg, June 15 (ANI): The much-awaited meet between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will be an “official and structured” half-and-an-hour meeting instead of being a mere handshake-meet as being widely believed, said top Government sources on Monday.

The two leaders’ meet will take place on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit on Tuesday.

The meet holds significance, as India-Pakistan peace process and dialogue had come to a halt since Mumbai terror attacks that occurred last November. This will be the first time that the two leaders will be meeting since the incident.

According to official sources, Pakistani High Commissioner had made an official request last week and conveyed it to Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon that President Zardari would like to meet Indian Prime Minister on the sidelines of SCO.

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

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Singh during his meet with Pakistan President Zardari on Tuesday is anticipated to take up the issue of terrorism and convey 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 Indian Premier meets Zardari tomorrow in the Russian city of Yeketerinberg.

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.”

Asked about foreign pressure to hold talks, Indian officials denied facing any kind of such pressure to resume dialogue with Pakistan.

Another authoritative source told Asian News International that the United States had never asked India to talk to Pakistan. “We are talking to our neighbour because it is in our interest to talk with Pakistan.” (ANI)

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