In a surprise move, Pakistan has indicated that a meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh cannot be ruled out on the sidelines of the SAARC summit at Thimpu next week though New Delhi has ruled this out.
"The prime minister will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts as well as representatives of observer states. Pakistan favours SAARC linkages with observers and international institutions to promote project-based development cooperation," a foreign office statement on Friday said.
"By saying that the prime minister will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts, the Foreign Office is not altogether ruling out a summit meeting between Pakistan and India, but rather Islamabad is keeping its options open," The News said on Saturday.
The Foreign Office had earlier said neither country had made a request for a meeting, but they were open to one and an agreement could be reached on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.
An official, meanwhile, told The News that the Foreign Office was surprised to read a statement by Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Thursday saying "there has been no request from the Pakistan side as of now" (for a meeting between the two prime ministers).
"We are really surprised at the foreign secretary's statement and would like to remind her that Pakistan proposed a road map first in New York and then at the meeting of foreign secretaries in New Delhi Feb 25. We had proposed a meaningful engagement between our two countries, including a summit, between the two prime ministers in Bhutan on the sidelines of the SAARC summit. We are still awaiting India's response to our road map," the official said.
According to him, it was now for India to respond to Pakistan's proposal rather than expect a response from Islamabad.
On Friday, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari urged India to respond positively to the Pakistani road map to restore the peace dialogue as only "extremists and anti-state elements" were benefiting from their no-talks.
Asserting that Pakistan wants to solve amicably all outstanding issues with India, including the Kashmir dispute, Zardari said both countries must come to negotiation table soon. Otherwise extremists and anti-state powers would benefit.
India says the time is far from ripe for resuming the sub-continental dialogue.
Responding to a question in parliament, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Thursday reminded Islamabad to take action against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed and "act in an expeditious and transparent manner against all those responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attack".
Linking a resumption of full-fledged dialogue with action against terror, Krishna said India has reiterated that "the door for dialogue with Pakistan has never been closed, and meaningful dialogue with Pakistan is possible only in an environment free of terror or threat of terror".