After days of speculation,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday confirmed he would meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York,when he is expected to convey concerns over “barbaric” incidents on the LoC and continued terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
At the meeting on September 29,the Indian side will see what the new Pakistan Prime Minister,who has made “some nice statements” about the relationship,has to offer to address its concerns over ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and International Border,continued terrorism and inaction against the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack.
In a statement issued this morning in New Delhi before embarking on his visit to the US,Singh said he was “looking forward” to meeting Sharif in New York,ending days of speculation over whether they would meet in the American city where both will attend the UN General Assembly.
The situation on the LoC and terrorism will be discussed,highly placed sources said about the talks that will take place against the backdrop of a chill in bilateral ties after the killing of five Indian soldiers on the LoC by Pakistani troops last month.
Emphasising the need for talks with Pakistan,the sources said it is all the more essential after the “barbaric incidents” on the LoC.
Questioned what has changed since Singh said “it cannot be business as usual” with Pakistan after an Indian soldier was behaeded on the LoC in January,the sources said since then Sharif had taken over as the new premier and has made “some nice” statements about taking the relationship forward.
The sources said the two leaders will review the status of bilateral relations to see “where we are and where we need to go”. They,however,sought to keep expectations low,emphasising that any substantial outcome should not be hoped for.
The sources further said there will be no joint statement.
They underlined the need for talking to Pakistan,arguing that “you don¿t need to make peace with friends but with enemies”.
“We are ready to talk on all issues. We know what are the issues,” a source said.
“Let’s see what they offer to deal with our concerns,” the source said.
Besides terrorism and LoC issues,Singh and Sharif are expected to talk about ways to take forward trade and economic relations.
The two countries are in the process of finalising arrangements for cooperation in the power sector and a Pakistani team will visit India in the next two weeks. Cooperation in the field of gas too is in the offing.
In the power sector,India will supply electricity to Pakistan,where even the capital is witnessing power cuts of up to 16 hours a day,sources said. The power supply will be purely on commercial basis.
Singh and Sharif are also expected to discuss the regional situation,particularly Afghanistan which will see a drawdown of US-led forces next year. Both India and Pakistan have interests in the situation there.
India feels that post-2014,there will be transition in Afghanistan on three aspects – security,political and economy. And on all these issues,India is “not pessimistic”.
On the security front,India is of the view that Afghan forces have developed adequate capabilities to deal with terrorism and there “is not going to be a great collapse”.
With regard to the political aspect,India does not feel there will be any “break down” as efforts are already underway to find successors to President Hamid Karzai.
As regards the economic situation,India feels Afghanistan has made the “greatest progress” in the past 10 years.
The sources noted that all countries in the region,including India,Pakistan,China and Iran,have interests in the stability and development of Afghanistan.
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