Though it’s a proposition riddled with a variety of political consequences in an election year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday expressed the hope of visiting Pakistan in the next four months, admitting that circumstances were at present "not appropriate" for a visit.
Singh also said the two countries had almost achieved a breakthrough on the Kashmir issue in the recent past.
On the India-US stand-off over the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade, Singh said at his press conference that diplomacy should be given a chance to resolve the matter. He added that his government attaches the "highest priority" to strengthen the strategic partnership between India and the US which has recently seen some "hiccups".
On his wish to visit Pakistan, Singh said, "I would very much like to go to Pakistan. I was born in a village which is now part of West Punjab but as Prime Minister of the country I should go to visit Pakistan when conditions are appropriate to achieve solid results." He said this in response to a question on why he had not visited Pakistan in the nearly 10 years of his Prime Ministership.
On a query about reports that India and Pakistan were on the verge of a historic agreement on Jammu and Kashmir, the PM said, "I have tried to improve relations with all our neighbours to the best of my ability and at one time it appeared that an important breakthrough was in sight. Events in Pakistan, for example, that General Pervez Musharraf had to make way for a different set up. I think that led to the process not moving further."
However, he added that he still believes good relations between India and Pakistan are essential for the sub-continent to realise its full development potential to get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease.
On the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Singh said, "It is not true that we are not concerned about the well being of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. We have consistently made every effort to persuade the government of Sri Lanka to address the genuine problems of the Tamil population. We continue to do so and will do so in future as well," he said.