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Peace process hit, not halted

india Updated: Jul 19, 2006 01:37 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh scales down anti-Pakistan rhetoric

HAVING GOT world leaders at the G8 summit to put international pressure – though indirectly – on Pakistan, with a strong statement condemning the "perpetrators, organisers, sponsors" of the Mumbai blasts, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday tried to tone down the anti-Pakistan rhetoric.

Singh said the bilateral dialogue process had suffered because of the "onslaught" of terrorism. "But I wouldn't say (it is) a setback," he said, adding that "anything that gives this process a setback makes me feel sad" because the "destinies of the people of South Asia are interlinked" and "both India and Pakistan need peace and stability".

Talking to the media on board the Air-India special flight on his way back from the summit of the G8 and outreach nations in St Petersburg, Singh said, "In the light of this ghastly tragedy (Mumbai serial blasts), it is inevitable we should reflect on our relations with Pakistan." He said, "We will look at what options there are."

Asked why Pakistan should feel pressured, since it was not named in the G8 statement, an official said, "I would be very worried if I were Pakistan. The message is clear."

On how the government planned to tackle terror, the PM said it would be a "long haul" and that they had to devise ways to improve intelligence to win the war against terrorism.

Singh said the Iran nuclear issue was another "concern" that came up in the talks. He said South African President Thabo Mbeki had told him that dialogue had a good chance on the Iran issue.

Singh said he would convey the message to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki - who is in Delhi - that "it is in everyone's interest to resolve the matter through dialogue and discussion". The PM said it would not help if the matter was taken to the UNSC.