PM holds wide-ranging discussions with Gilani
Manmohan Singh stressed on the need for an "atmosphere free of violence" during the meeting.
Mohali: Mixing cricket with diplomacy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday held wide-ranging discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani when he favoured the need for an "atmosphere free of violence"
in order to ensure thorough mobilisation of bilateral ties.
At a dinner Singh hosted in honour of Gilani on the margins of the high-voltage Indo-Pak semi-final match, the Pakistani premier shared this sentiment, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters, briefing them on the meeting.
Singh told his guest "we should put our ancient animosities behind to attend to the problems of our nations. We have the will to persevere, we have the will to overcome."
He said India and Pakistan "should be working together to find cooperative solutions. We need permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honour".
Describing Singh's initiative as a "re-engagement" between India and Pakistan, she said the cricket encounter provided the "setting, locale and impetus" for the meeting.
"Not at all," was Rao's response when asked whether 26/11 attacks have been left behind and brushed aside or put under the carpet in the dialogue.
The Prime Minister, she said, insisted that there should be an "atmosphere free of tension and violence" and the meeting of the Home Secretaries of the two countries had discussed the issue.
"We have said it is very important that evidence is scrutinised properly and those responsible are brought to justice. There should be a proper closure and that does not mean that we have set aside or brushed aside or put it under
the carpet. Not at all," she said.
Rao said the outcome of the meeting was that the two countries will stay in touch and keep up contact. "There will be further directions from the leadership," she said.
Gilani renewed his invitation to Singh to visit Pakistan, but Rao said the dates need to be discussed and finalised through diplomatic channels.
Commerce Secretaries of two countries will meet next month and she will meet her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in the middle of this year, she said.
"This will be followed by the meeting of Foreign Ministers of both countries," she said.
Rao said the meeting has once again reaffirmed the intention of both the governments to take forward the dialogue process because "dialogue is a process through which we can understand each other better, through which we can resolve our outstanding issues and the goal of this dialogue is normalisation of relations in an uninterrupted manner."
"It would be fair to say just as we spoke of the spirit of Thimphu after the Prime Ministers met on the margins of SAARC in April last year today there is a Mohali spirit that pervades our relationship," she said.
"It is extremely positive and encouraging spirit that has been generated as a result of today's meeting. It was a wide-ranging conversation," she said.
It was a wide-ranging conversation in the backdrop of the spirit of sporting combat, which strengthened the competitive game, she said.
"Sporting contacts epitomises many other contacts like people to people contacts and helps a great deal in cementing understanding and friendship between the two countries," Rao said.
Gilani suggested that the Indian cricket team should visit Pakistan and play matches there.
The two Prime Ministers also spoke about the need for Parliamentary visits which could be a good channel for friendly exchange.
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