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Indo-Pak foreign secy-level talks to resume
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Havana, Cuba
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September 16, 2006 22:07 IST
Last Updated: September 17, 2006 01:49 IST

India and Pakistan peace talks have come back on track after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] said 'Mohabbat Zindabad' after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] in Havana, Cuba.

On Saturday morning, both leaders met at Protocol House in Havana on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit for one hour and condemned all acts of terrorism.

They then issued a joint statement agreeing that the peace process must be maintained and its success was important for both countries and the future of the entire region.

The leaders agreed to resume foreign secretary-level talks and have a meet in New Delhi as soon as possible.

The heads of the state from both the countries were meeting for the first time on the sidelines of the NAM Summit in Havana, Cuba, after the Mumbai and Malegaon blasts in Maharashtra that killed nearly 250 people.

The last time they met was in New York on September 2005 on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly.

The peace talks had slowed down after the Mumbai blasts and it was only last week when Dr Singh said in Brazil [Images], "I have said more than once that I can't carry Indian public opinion with me if terrorist acts continue on Indian soil. Whatever be the cause, it puts a dampener on the Indo-Pak relations."

The joint statement further decided to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and ivestigations.

When reporters queried him on the joint declaration, President Musharraf kept a finger on his lip and said that he was not supposed to talk to the media.

Asked if he could at least say, Mohabbat Zindabad, Musharraf said loudly, "Mohabbat Zindabad," quoting the famous song from the Hindi film Mughal-e-Azam.

He also said that the talks were a breakthrough between the two countries.

"I am very sorry I cannot speak much because I have made a commitment to the Indian prime minister on this issue," said Musharraf.

"I don't want any misunderstanding so I am keeping quiet and I want the peace talks to continue," added Musharraf. 

He informed that he had invited the prime minister of India to Pakistan and he too was ready to come to India when called.

Besides the foreign secretaries' meet, the two leaders agreed on other issues like the Siachen issue and agreed that experts should meet immediately to agree on coordinates for a joint survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas without prejudice to each other's position on the issue.

The two sides also agreed to facilitate implementation of agreements already reached on Line of Control-related confident building measures, including bus services, crossing points and truck service.

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