Diplomatic efforts on to facilitate Manmohan-Gilani meeting

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Thimphu (Bhutan), Apr.27 (ANI): As the red carpet rolls out for leaders coming to attend the two-day XVIth South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at Thimphu,efforts are reportedly on at the diplomatic level to facilitate a meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines.

Indian and Pakistani diplomats are working hard to finalize the bilateral meeting. Senior officials of both countries dealing specifically with bilateral ties have already arrived here. They include Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and the Joint Secretary in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in charge of the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desk,Y.K. Sinha.

Although the stage looks almost set for a possible meeting, officially there is no confirmation.

Sources have told ANI that the meeting is very much on the cards.

According to sources, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir are also expected to hold a separate meeting before the Prime Ministers' of both countries meet.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister S.M.Krishna told ANI here that the schedule of the Prime Minister will only be fixed once he arrives here on Wednesday.

Dr.Singh will be arriving here tomorrow morning, while Prime Minister Gilani has already arrived.

Sending a positive feeler about possible talks, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told ANI " We can talk about talks. One always lives on hope. Talking and engaging is the most sensible way forward."

Sources also maintain that even if bilateral meeting does not materialise, a "pull aside" meeting like the recent one in Washington is certain. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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