Manmohan, Gilani meeting goes beyond schedule, stalemated over joint declaration content

Posted By: Staff
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Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt), July 16 (ANI): Talks between the Prime Ministers' of India and Pakistan - Dr. Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani - being held on the sidelines of the XVth Non-Aligned Movement (NAM Summit here, have gone beyond the scheduled time.

The much anticipated meeting has now gone on for more than two hours, forcing the cancellation of a bilateral meeting between Dr. Singh and his Nepalese counterpart Madhav Kumar Nepal and the postponement of the Prime Minister's press conference by one-and-a half-hours.

The Prime Minister was scheduled to address a press conference at 1 p.m. local time, but this has now been postponed to 2.30 p.m. after the closure of the XVth NAM Summit.

Senior officials, Special Secretaries and security officials were seen going in and out of the room where the meeting was being held.

At some point, the foreign secretaries of the two countries - Shiv Shankar Menon (India) and Salman Bashir (Pakistan) came out of the room and went into another room for discussions. Apparently, it seemed, that they had been given the responsibility of working out the content of the joint declaration by their respective heads of government.

Pakistani media quoting sources who were inside the room where the two Prime Ministers' are meeting, said the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement or a consensus on the content of the joint declaration.

Some in the Pakistani media projected a sense of deja vu, saying that Thursday's meeting reminded them of the deliberations that took place between India and Pakistan at the failed Agra Summit of 2000.

Phonos were being made to channels and reporting was taking place back and forth on the Pakistani side about their being the possibility of a stalemate.

Pakistani media at the venue seem to suggest that while the Pakistani delegation was sticking to its demand for the inclusion of the Kashmir issue in the joint statement, the Indian side was insisting on the statement making a detailed mention of terrorism and the Mumbai attack probe.

So engrossed were the leaders and officials of the two countries in the deliberations, that several rounds of coffee and nuts that went in, were sent back out with the bearers.

It reminded one of the similar deliberations that took place between Indian and American officials during the discussions on the US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal and agreement between 2005 and 2008.

It also appeared as if the Indian side was keen not to have a repeat of the failed Agra Summit. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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