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Menon meets Gilani ahead of India, Pak PMs meeting

world Updated: Jul 16, 2009 11:27 IST
Menon meets Gilani ahead of India

Hectic discussions continued between Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan ahead of meeting of Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday to review progress on Islamabad's action to punish those behind the Mumbai terror attacks.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon held several rounds of meetings on Wednesday with his Pakistani counterpart
Salman Bashir and met Gilani late last night to prepare the ground for the meeting of the two principals.

After the meetings, Menon said the "talks are continuing", indicating some forward movement.

"There is no way but dialogue to deal with issues either to take the relations forward or to address issues that
divide us," he said.

Menon, however, said: "we have had difficult issues in the past and we still have difficult issues to address".

Describing India's relations with Pakistan as "stressed", Menon told reporters that both sides know that there is a problem which has to be dealt with.

Menon said India has made it clear to Pakistan that it has to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice
and take credible steps to dismantle terror infrastructure on its territory.

This will be the second meeting between Gilani and Singh. They earlier met on the sidelines of a SAARC summit in

Menon described his talks with Bashir as "good and detailed" but was unwilling to says whether they were satisfactory. We are still in the process of talking".

The Foreign Secretary said the issue of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and other fugitives in Pakistan was raised
during the discussions. The release of LeT founder and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, was also
taken up with the Pakistan side, he said.

He said New Delhi was looking for clarity following reports that the Punjab provincial government had withdrawn
its appeal in the court against Saeed's release.

Bashir talked of a "tall order" after his 90-minute meeting with Menon in the small hours of Tuesday, shortly
after the Indian official landed from Paris.

"We want to have a broad-based engagement. We want to turn the corner in our relationship. We have agreed to
continue our conversation. There is a tall order. It is uphill. Pakistan is prepared," Bashir said on his meeting with
Menon in which they discussed all bilateral issues.

Sounding positive on the Indo-Pak engagement, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said, "Well, I think there is
less acrimony now. Even the statement made by Pakistan in the ministerial conference was a mild one and perhaps it might be the harbinger of the kind of relationship between the two countries which is in mutual interest."