Manmohan Singh, Gilani to meet today

Foreign secretaries discuss detention, release of JuD chief Hafeez Saeed

Manmohan Singh, Gilani to meet today

Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh and Right: PM of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza GilaniThe foreign secretaries of the two countries on Wednesday discussed a whole range of issues, including the detention and release of Jamaat-ud Dawah chief Mohammed Hafeez Saeed, believed to be the mastermind of 26/11. Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir talked of a “tall order” after his 90-minute meeting with his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon.

“We want to have a broad-based engagement. We want to turn the corner in our relationship. We have agreed to continue our conversation. There is a tall order. It is uphill. Pakistan is prepared,” Bashir said on his meeting with Menon. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday morning in which Pakistan’s actions on its commitment to bring to justice the perpetrators of 26/11 will be discussed.

Sounding positive on the Indo-Pak engagement in this sea resort town, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said: “Well, I think there is less acrimony now. Even the statement made by Pakistan in the ministerial conference was a mild one, and perhaps it might be the harbinger of the kind of relationship between the two countries which is in mutual interest.”

On Bashir’s stand that talks between the two countries should not be held hostage to one or the other issue like Saeed, Krishna said Pakistan did make an attempt to go at Saeed, but the court released him. “Wisdom would have dictated that they should have appealed in a higher court of law. But let us wait for the unfolding of the events further,” he said, adding one would have to await the outcome of the crucial meeting of the prime ministers.

The Singh-Gilani meeting follows the discussions the prime minister had with President Asif Ali Zardari in Yekaterinberg in Russia last month.

On Pakistan’s investigations into the Mumbai attack, Bashir said they were not primarily the domain of the foreign ministries.“And I think it goes to the credit of both sides that we have been able to communicate all the different aspects of those investigations,” he said.

Bashir said his talks with Menon were good, open and frank and covered all issues. “It was more than terror. We talked about all issues. We talked about bilateral relations.

We want to have a broad-based engagement. We want to turn the corner in our relationship,” he said. On concerns in India about the Saeed issue, Bashir said that was also touched upon. “The stakes are too high just to link them to one or the other issue. I think we are very clear on a lot of matters. Of course, we do understand the Indian position, but that is centred on the issue on Mumbai and post-Mumbai. We want to get past that,” he said.

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