In a sign of the continuing deadlock in their bilateral ties, the leaders of India and Pakistan are set to avoid a bilateral meeting in Washington on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, dimming prospects for a thaw at a South Asia summit in Bhutan later this month.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani will be meeting US President Barack Obama separately at Blair House, the presidential guest house across the street from White House, Sunday afternoon, but both sides have ruled out a bilateral meeting.
The US, which backs the resumption of dialogue between nuclear-armed rivals but has maintained a hands-off approach, was keen for a meeting between the two leaders, but the Indian side was not keen on a meeting at this stage.
This is the second time in four months the leaders of India and Pakistan have avoided a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a multilateral summit.
India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi avoided a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Trinidadian capital in November last year.
The decision of both sides not to have bilateral talks has dampened prospects of a breakthrough at the expected meeting between Manmohan Singh and Gilani on the sidelines of April 28-29 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Bhutanese capital.
Foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan met in New Delhi Feb 25, but the meeting ended on a tentative note with just polite noises about staying in touch.
New Delhi has made it clear that Pakistan needs to show action on ground on 10 dossiers given to Islamabad linking Pakistan-based militants to various terror attacks in India before it can think of resuming the composite dialogue that stalled after 26/11 attacks.