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Semi-final timely opportunity for both nations: Gilani

March 28, 2011 19:54 IST

The World Cup semi-final between the cricket teams of India and Pakistan is a timely opportunity for the two countries to show the world that they can play together as well as deliberate together on key issues, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Monday.

Gilani made the remarks while chairing a meeting of his cabinet, a day after accepting his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh's invitation to watch the match at Mohali on Wednesday. The decision to accept the invitation was made at a meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani on Sunday.

Thanking Singh for inviting him to the semi-final, Gilani said, "It is also a timely opportunity for the two governments to show the world that the two nations can play together as well as sit and deliberate together on issues of national importance."

According to an official statement, Gilani responded to the invitation by saying, "I have decided to avail of this opportunity in the national interest." The two prime ministers will meet two days after a meeting between the home and interior secretaries of india and Pakistan that marked the resumption of the bilateral peace process, which was stalled in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Official sources said Gilani briefed the cabinet on his upcoming visit to India. The cabinet was initially scheduled to meet on Wednesday but the meeting was brought forward so that the prime minister could brief his colleagues about the invitation extended to him by the Indian government.

The Pakistan government is completing the arrangements for Gilani's visit, including the delegation that will accompany the premier to Mohali. Ahead of the visit, President Zardari on Sunday remitted the remaining jail term of Indian prisoner Gopal Das, who has been imprisoned in Pakistan for 27 years. The remission was granted on Gilani's advice.