A day ahead of the meeting of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart from Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, India said on Friday that “recent incidents” had affected the nature and future of the ongoing composite dialogue between the two countries.
Foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon without mentioning specific instances indicated that the several cases of ceasefire violations, the suicide bomber attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad had dented the progress in the dialogue between India and Pakistan.
“Recent incidents quite frankly have affected the future of the dialogue,” Menon said at a late evening press conference. He added: “It (the dialogue) is in a place where it hasn’t been in the last four years.’’
Prime Ministers Singh and Gilani are slated to meet on the sidelines of the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit on Saturday.
On the Kabul blast, Menon said the incident was in the investigation stage, adding that “...it was a jigsaw puzzle and we have some pieces in place.”
Menon said one of the important agreements on line to be signed at the summit was the Mutual Assistance on
Criminal Matters accord among SAARC countries. Once in place, the pact would lead to the exchange of evidence and documents on criminals in the region.
On Friday, Singh met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and held talks on a range of issues including fighting terrorism. “Both discussed that concrete steps in fighting terror were needed,’’ Menon said, adding that both heads of government agreed that if terrorism was not controlled, neither country would profit from the rising economic tide in the region.
Singh and Rajapaksa also discussed the issue of Indian fishermen, who frequently come under attack from the Lankan navy. Menon said the PM stressed on practical solutions to the problem. Rajapaksa reiterated the long-standing policy of the Lankan navy to treat fishermen apprehended in Sri Lankan waters in a humanitarian manner.
Singh also met representatives from political parties in Sri Lanka who briefed him on the current political situation and the developments in the east, where elections were held in May for the first time in several years.