India tells Pak that terrorism holding back talks progress

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Thimphu, Apr 29 (ANI): India told Pakistan on Thursday that terrorism is stalling progress of the bilateral talks process, and added that there is a need for both countries to pay attention to reducing the existing trust deficit.

During a significant 50-minute meeting held at Bhutan House here on the sidelines of the XVIth SAARC Summit, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh told his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani that terrorism is holding back progress in Indo-Pak ties.

Briefing the media after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said Prime Minister Singh particularly mentioned India's concerns over Pakistan's tardy progress in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks to justice.

She said India laid stress on the fact that there has been an increase in cross-border terror, and added that Prime Minister Singh had expressed his deep concern over the activities and free movement of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed.

Rao said that Prime Minister Gilani responded by saying that Pakistan is serious about tackling terror and is taking all steps under the laws of the land to bring to book the perpetrators of 26/11.

Saeed is wanted by India as the prime suspect for the 26/11 attacks.

Rao said that while no joint statement was issued after the talks, both sides would meet as soon as possible at the Foreign Ministers and Secretaries level.

She also said that both Dr. Singh and Mr. Gilani had decided that channels of dialogue should be kept open to restore "trust and confidence" in the bilateral relationship.

"The Prime Ministers held very good talks in a free and frank manner. They agreed that cooperation between the two countries is vital for the people of South Asia to realize their destiny," Rao told reporters.

"Prime Minister expressed India's concern over the slow progress of Mumbai trial in Pakistan to Prime Minister Gilani," Ms. Rao said.

This was their first meeting after their dialogue in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt on July 16, 2009.

Rao said both leaders first met accompanied by their respective delegations. This was followed by a one-on-one meeting and then again by another meeting with the respective delegations present.

Rao said that Dr. Singh had told Mr. Gilani that India is willing to discuss all issues of mutual concern through dialogue.

At a separate interaction with the media, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the meeting between the two leaders ended on a positive note and he would be meeting his Indian counterpart S. M. Krishna soon.

He also welcomed Home Minister P. Chidambaram to Islamabad on June 26 for the SAARC Home Minister's conference.

Qureshi claimed that the meeting has "changed the climate" between the two countries.

Asked whether Foreign Ministers-level talks amounted to a resumption of the suspended Composite Dialogue process between both nations, Rao said: "I do not want to get into details about the nomenclature of the talks."

She also declined to go into the details of the issues that would figure in the talks, saying "all concerns" would be discussed.

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