Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), May 19 : In his first meeting with new Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, US President George W. Bush reportedly told him that it was the right time to settle the Kashmir issue which has been pending for more than two decades now.
He also welcomed the 'significant' improvement in Indo-Pak relations.
"We see a major and significant development in Pakistan-India relations and time is ripe for solution of the Kashmir issue," The News quoted Bush as saying.
Bush's statement acquires special significance as it comes just ahead of the review meeting of Pakistan-India Composite Dialogue in Islamabad, said the paper.
Later briefing the media, one of the Pakistani cabinet ministers accompanying Gilani at the meeting, said that the US President observed that the relations between Pakistan and India had never been so good. He was of the view that the two countries should capitalize on it and resolve all outstanding issues.
But, another member of the prime minister's delegation who was not present during the talks insisted that President Bush's statement about time being ripe for the Kashmir solution was just a "casual" remark.
Gilani-Bush meeting lasted more than one hours at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh during which they agreed to take the strategic ties to a new higher level that transcends the ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism.
The meeting that took place on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East was Hyatt Regency Hotel where President Bush was staying. The meeting ended on an upbeat note with both leaders expressing the resolve to work together to further advance the "already good relations" and diversify bilateral cooperation to make it more comprehensive.