Nirupama Rao praises Singh-Gilani cricket meet

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Manmohan Singh-Yusuf Raza Gilani
Mohali, Mar 31: Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said the meeting between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the World Cup semi-final clash was "extremely positive and encouraging".

Addressing mediapersons here after the dinner meeting between Dr.

Singh and Prime Minister Gilani on Wednesday, Rao said: "It is extremely positive and encouraging spirit that has been generated as a result of today's (Wednesday) meeting. As I said this was a wide ranging conversation and it took place against the backdrop of what is a sporting contact, a cricket match between our two countries. "

She added, "and indeed, sporting contacts such as this epitomize the essence of people to people exchange and the spirit of a good game. A constructive, it may be a competitive game but it is also a constructive game."

Rao further said the meeting between the two leaders had generated a positive momentum and would be fruitful in bridging the gap between both countries.

" I think it contributed a great deal to cementing, understanding, and friendship between the two countries. In their conversation, the two prime ministers also spoke about the importance of such exchanges as those between the parliamentarians of the two countries," she said.

The India-Pakistan dialogue, she said, was a process to help "understand each other better".

"This is re-engagement...It's about peace, it's about healing wounds, it's about reconciliation." she said. "We have begun this year with a very positive agenda of contact and exchanges between India and Pakistan. It is a good augury for the future," Rao added.

n a bid to create a Mohali spirit as a follow-up to the Thimphu spirit, Prime Minister Gilani invited Dr. Singh to visit Islamabad.

Prime Minister Gilani did extend an invitation to Dr. Singh to visit Pakistan," Rao said, adding that this would "need to be discussed and finalised through diplomatic channels".

Dr Singh and Prime Minister Gilani were watching the World Cup semi-final between the two nations as a symbolic gesture aimed at rebuilding ties shattered by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

ANI

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