Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will meet here on Saturday morning in a keenly awaited one-on-one that, from available indications, could result in the resumption of the foreign secretary-level talks between the two countries.
Both leaders attended the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) summit on Friday at the International Convention Centre but there was no word on whether they had run into each other. Indian Ambassador to Cuba Mitra Vashist said that the meeting between the two leaders would be held at the neutral venue of the Protocol House that is reserved for high-level diplomatic meetings.
Both leaders avoided getting into any controversy in the run-up to their meeting, but Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri told NDTV that if India scales down troops in Kashmir, Pakistan would be ready to reciprocate in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He said there was possibility of the resumption of foreign secretary-level talks if the meeting went off well—a hope expressed by the Indian side as well. Singh has said on Thursday that he had no desire to “indulge in a public discussion” with Musharraf ahead of his Saturday meeting. Musharraf also said much the same thing to NDTV, but Kasuri accused India of not appreciating Musharraf’s contribution to the peace process.
Singh did not rule out a joint statement after the meeting. “I look forward to meeting him and we will discuss several issues in the limited time available,” he told newsmen. Singh was replying to a question on Musharraf’s assertion in Brussels, on his way to Havana, that Pakistan had made whatever concessions had to be made on Kashmir and it was for India now to reciprocate.
Singh reiterated that “all issues relating to the control of terrorism” would figure in the talks. He had earlier stated that Pakistan will have to give credible assurances as well as show progress on the ground regarding putting a check on cross-border terrorism launched from its soil.