Manmohan Singh, Gilani begin bilateral meet at NAM amid media jamboree

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Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt), July 16 (ANI): The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan - Dr. Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani - have begun their much anticipated bilateral meeting here on the sidelines of the XVth Non-Aligned Movement Summit.

The two leaders are being accompanied and assisted at their talks by their respective foreign ministers, national security advisers,key officials and aides.

The scene at the venue of the meeting was completely chaotic on Thursday morning due to an overwhelming media crush.

More than 200 print and electronic media, including Indian, Pakistani and from other countries are gathered at the venue in the hope of getting that crucial sound byte from either of the two leaders.

Many clicked away with their cameras, and zoomed in with their video cameras as the two Prime Ministers' shook hands several times.

Neither of them, however, uttered a word, and Singh just smiled as questions were directed at him from all sides.

Perhaps his studied silence was due to his alleged faux pax at Yekatarinburg in Russia when he confronted Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in front of media by saying that he had come with a mandate from the people of India to ask Pakistan to stop exporting terror from its soil.

Both appeared relaxed as they greeted each other in front of the huge media contingent. Gilani was dressed in biscuit-gray suit, while Singh was dressed in a blue bandh gala.

Security at the venue was extremely tight. As media persons entered, they and their equipment was subjected to a thorough search first by Indian security, followed by a Pakistani security check and finally an Egyptian security check. The hallway and the venue of the meeting were lined with a heavy security presence.

Security personnel were hard-pressed and stressed out in trying to contain and control the media onslaught.

Thursday's meeting is taking place after two meetings between Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on Tuesday and Wednesday on the sidelines of the NAM Summit.

On Wednesday, Menon described India's relations with Pakistan as "stressed", and said it was no use doing the same dialogue over and over again unless it deals with reality.

"Now you can"t just keep doing the same dialogue over and over again unless it deals with reality as we find it and with the sources of trouble in our relationship. That"s part of it. So what we"re saying here is, "let"s see how we deal with the situation"," Menon told reporters.

Speaking on terrorist attacks, he said: "We have a situation where India Pakistan relations are stressed and they"re stressed for certain reasons; because of terrorist attacks on India from Pakistan. So we need to take that into account, to see how we deal with that first, and then we"ll see... but we are not. What I"m trying to say is, there is no such decision saying we will not do this, we will not do that. No we are saying we have a situation here, we have to see how we deal with it."

Menon said India will make it clear to Pakistan that it has to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice and take credible steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan.

"What we have always said is credible action to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice, that"s what we have said from day two. Secondly credible action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan from which attacks on India take place," he added.

He said India has already raised the issue of Indian fugitives in Pakistan during his discussions with Bashir.

"We raised the issue of Indian fugitives from Indian justice who are in Pakistan, we did raise the issue," he said. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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