SAARC: Indo-Pak agree to conduct trade on MFN basis

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Manmohan Singh-Yousuf Raza Gilani
Addu (Maldives), Nov 10: Declaring that time has come to write a "new chapter" in the history of two countries, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today decided that India will move towards Preferential Trade Agreement with Pakistan as both sides agreed that bilateral trade will be conducted on Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis.

During an hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit, Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani also decided to put in place a liberalised visa regime at the earliest and revive the Indo-Pak joint Commission that has not been in operation since 2005.

The decision to take the bilateral engagement to a new level came in their third meeting in the last 18 months after their talks at the 2010 SAARC summit in Thimphu when they decided to resume bilateral dialogue. The two leaders, who have had meetings on several occasions in the last three years, hit it off during their talks at the Shangrilla resort here in a beach cottage besides the Indian Ocean.

After a photo opportunity at the start of the talks, they were joined by their delegations, including the Foreign Ministers, Foreign Secretaries and others. Then the one-to-one hour-long interactions started between them. The tone was set by Singh who said he always regarded Gilani as a "man of peace" and that both the countries have lost much time in the past in acrimonious debates. "The time has come to write a new chapter in the history of two countries and the era of accusations and counter-accusations should be behind us."

PTI

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