PM offers to meet new Pak leadership "halfway"

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New Delhi, Mar 5 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today offered to meet the new leadership in Pakistan "halfway", saying the destinies of the two neighbours were inter-linked.

Assuring the newly elected leadership in Islamabad that New Delhi sought to build a lasting relationship based on cooperation and enduring peace, Dr Singh said "India wants to live in peace with Pakistan. The destinies of the two nations are closely inter-linked." He reiterated that the two countries needed to put behind the past and focus instead on "our collective prosperity, our collective destiny," as he winded up the nearly hour-long reply on the President's address in the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh also paid fulsome praise to the efforts to begin a dialogue between India and Pakistan by Benazir Bhutto and Rajiv Gandhi during their premiership.

He extended the praise to include Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Sharif and NDA leader Atal Behari Vajpayee for "most courageous steps taken by them" to further the dialogue process.

The Prime Minister said leaders of Pakistan's main political parties had expressed a desire to work with India.

Congratulating the people of Pakistan for installing a democratically elected government, he said in both countries there was consensus for closer and cooperative relations and a framework of enduring peace.

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