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PM talks tough on terror with Zardari
Says dialogue after Pakistan curbs terrorism
Ashok Tuteja writes from Yekaterinburg

Meeting fruitful, says Pak

Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Office on Tuesday described as "fruitful and positive" the Zardari-Manmohan Singh meeting in Yekaterinburg and expressed confidence that the stalled bilateral composite bilateral dialogue would resume soon. — TNS

A significant meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari here this afternoon sent out a clear message that India and Pakistan were edging towards the normalisation of bilateral ties, nearly seven months after the Mumbai terror attacks.

They directed their foreign secretaries to meet within the next one month and discuss the “primary issue of terrorism” before the two leaders meet again on the margins of the NAM Summit in Egypt on July 15-16.

“I am pleased to meet you, His Excellency, I have a limited mandate to tell you that the territory of Pakistan should not be allowed to be used for terrorist acts against India,” Manmohan Singh firmly told the Pakistani leader right at the start of their 40-minute meeting, shortly after the conclusion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.

Zardari was virtually rendered speechless for a while as neither he nor any member of his delegation expected such strong words from the Prime Minister, which came when lensmen were still in the Silver Room of the Hotel Hyatt Regency to take shots of the two leaders shaking hands.

Briefing reporters on the meeting, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said the two leaders held detailed discussions on India-Pakistan relations, which remained under stress.

Manmohan told Zardari that the primary cause of the tension between their two countries was the terrorist attacks being launched against India from the Pakistani territory. Manmohan Singh was quite forthright in conveying to Zardari, who he had last met in September 2008 on the margins of the UN General Assembly meet, the full extent of India’s expectations from Pakistan.

The three conditions laid by Manmohan Singh for the resumption of dialogue were: Pakistan must take strong and effective action against forces representing terrorism, act against the perpetrators of terror attacks in India and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. He also conveyed to Zardari India’s disappointment over the release of Hafiz Saeed, chief of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (Jud), one of the key plotters of the Mumbai carnage.

The beleaguered Pakistan president, who is facing the heat from the Pakistan Army, as well as the ISI back home, explained to Manmohan Singh the steps being taken by Pakistan to tackle terrorism and the problems the country was facing to deal with the menace.

Asked when he would meet his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir, Foreign Secretary Menon said the date and venue of the meeting would be decided soon. “We will discuss what Pakistan is doing to deal with terrorism (against India) and what it can do. We will also tell them what needs to be done and then take stock of the situation.” Menon was at pains to emphasise that the decision by the two principals to ask the foreign secretaries to meet amounted to the resumption of dialogue.

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