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PM, Gilani meet at beach cottage, script new chapter in ties

Last updated on: November 10, 2011 14:02 IST

PM, Gilani meet at beach cottage, script new chapter in ties


Prasanna D Zore in Addu, Maldives

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday met his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Maldives to give a push to normalisation of bilateral relations marked by "shrinking" trust deficit.

The meeting on the sidelines of the 17th SAARC summit comes a week after Pakistan took a path-breaking decision to confer MFN status to India 16 years after it got a similar treatment from New Delhi and the return of the Indian Air Force's helicopter which had strayed into Pak-occupied Kashmir across the LoC last month.

The two Prime Ministers met in a beach cottage in Shangrilla resort along the Indian Ocean and discussed a whole range of issues, including the need for Islamabad to take action against the 26/11 perpetrators and build on the recent Pakistani decision to grant the MFN status to India.

The two heads of the state showed a positive body language as they posed for the cameras indicating that the one-on-one talks between the two were held in a positive environment.

The two leaders shook hands and smiled exhibiting a camaraderie that was not too difficult to miss.

Indian foreign minister S M Krishna and Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khan accompanied their prime ministers as they briefly addressed the media as the waves kept hitting the shores in front of the Shangri La beach.

The two heads of the state addressed the media for about five minutes after a one-on-one meeting that lasted for about 20 minutes.

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Image: PM Singh meets his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani during the SAARC summit in Maldives on Thursday
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore/

PM, Gilani meet at beach cottage, script new chapter in ties

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Earlier, Krishna, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai held delegation level talks with their Pakistani counterparts Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

"We have discussed all issues concerning India and Pakistan. We have openly discussed all the issues including terrorism, trade, Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen," Gilani said.

Gilani said he expected the next round of the talks to be more constructive, more positive and open a new chapter in the history of both the countries.

Gilani said the talks were positive but officials from the two countries need to meet more often. The Pakistani PM said the dialogue process will resume soon to discuss these core issue. The two PMs agreed to meet but haven't yet decided when.

In fact, the Pakistani PM was in such a good mood that when reporters -- despite being told in advance that the two leaders will not entertain any questions -- asked them when would the two heads of the states meet again, he said "now" as the two leaders went inside a beach cottage where the one-on-one was held.

In an unusual move that further indicated the positive atmosphere in which the two leaders met, Gilani thanked his Indian counterpart for having helped Pakistan to get the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and help Pakistan get access to the European Union market.

While one had began to expect the Indian PM too thanking his Pakistani counterpart for not allowing the straying of the Indian helicopter in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir into a diplomatic row, Dr Singh nevertheless was profuse in his praise of Gilani.

"Ever since I met Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani he has looked to me as a man of peace. And every time I have met him in the last three years this belief has been further strengthened," Dr Singh said reciprocating Gilani's goodwill gesture.

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Image: File photo of beach cottages at Shangrilla resort

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"Today we had very extensive discussions of relations of our two countries." He said the peace process started in Thimpu last year has resulted in positive developments.

Earlier, Khar told that she expected the Thimpu spirit to manifest itself in Maldives too and they would next year have the Addu spirit to guide the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan to greater heights.

The Indian PM said that the one-on-one as well as the delegation-level talks held between the two sides were extensive but echoed Gilani's sentiment that more needs to be done.

"We need to sincerely discuss all the issues that have bedeviled the two countries," and reiterated that "I have always believed that the destinies of the people of two countries are closely interlinked."

He further said that "I have always believed (the two nations) have wasted a lot of time in acrimonious debates. The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of our relationships.

Dr Singh said he is happy that PM Gilani fully endorsed the view that the two nations have a unique opportunity to tackle all the issues between the two countries and hoped that the next round of talks would be "far more productive, result-oriented and bring the two countries closer to each other."

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