M A I N   N E W S

PM meets King today
Natwar asks Nepal to release political detainees
S. Suresh

Jakarta, April 22
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here today on a three-day visit to attend the Asian-African summit on the sidelines of which, he said, he was looking forward to meeting Nepal’s King Gyanendra.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by a high level delegation, was received at the airport by senior Indian and Indonesian officials.

Talking to reporters on the special Air India flight which brought him here, Dr Singh said he would be happy to meet the King.

Indications are that the meeting will take place tomorrow. This will be the first highest-level political interaction between India and Nepal after the King overthrew the Sher Bahadur Deuba government on February 1.

External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh today met the King apparently to prepare the ground work for the meeting between the monarch and the Prime Minister.

Dr Singh said Nepal was India’s closest neighbour and the two countries shared centuries-old cultural, religious and civilisational links. “We are friends of Nepal.”

However, he said, “whatever happens in Nepal affects India.”

Asked if there was any change in India’s stand on the developments in Nepal because of which New Delhi had pulled out of the SAARC summit in Dhaka in February, the Prime Minister said “I don’t want to say anything now. I am looking forward to meeting his excellency. I will be happy to meet him.”

Dr Manmohan Singh said if the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan continued at this pace, it would lead to a final settlement of the Kashmir issue.

He said the Kashmir issue could be resolved only by building up confidence among the people on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) and they were allowed to lead a life of dignity and self respect.

“If this is allowed, it will create a conducive atmosphere for final settlement of the Kashmir issue,” Dr Singh told reporters en route to Jakarta to attend the Asia-Africa conference.

Asked if he would invite Hurriyat leaders for talks to resolve the Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister said “I am willing to talk to any group that abjures violence.”

Dr Singh said the recent visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and the Pakistan President had brought “solid results.”

During his meeting with Mr Natwar Singh today, the Nepal King explained the circumstances that led to the declaration of emergency and outlined the steps he had already taken and proposed to take soon to lift the emergency and restore the democratic process in Nepal.

“King Gyanendra conveyed that he was greatly looking forward to meeting the Prime Minister on the sidelines of the ongoing summit in Jakarta,” official sources said.

On his part, Mr Singh urged the King to initiate a process of reconciliation between political parties and the constitutional monarchy leading to restoration of the multi-party democracy in Nepal.

He conveyed India’s strong belief that the problems confronting Nepal, including the Maoist insurgency, could only be addressed on the basis of a national consensus between the two constitutional forces in Nepal.

In this context, he called for speedy release of the remaining political leaders, the lifting of emergency and media censorship.

During his stay in Jakarta, the Prime Minister will have bilateral meetings with several other leaders who will also be participating in the conference including those from China, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Singapore besides the Indonesian President.

The Prime Minister will also address the plenary of the Summit on April 23. The bilateral meetings will take place in the morning of April 23. The same day, he will address a Press Conference in Jakarta.

He will meet the Indian diaspora in Indonesia at a dinner hosted by the Indian Ambassador on April 23.

Dr Singh will take part in the historic walk to the venue of the 1955 Bandung Conference. — UNI


Manmohan meets Pervez

Jakarta, April 22 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today interacted with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf at a dinner hosted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in honour of leaders of African and Asian countries attending a summit here.

The Prime Minister along with his wife, Gursharan Kaur, walked up to President Musharraf and his wife Sehba and exchanged greetings. — PTI


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