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PM talks about Pakistan visit at Iftaar party

The PM says he will announce the new foreign minister before the next foreign secretary-level talks, reports Vinod Sharma.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2006 02:26 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared to link on Friday his visit to Pakistan with the success of the proposed joint mechanism to combat terror.

"In principle, I have accepted the invitation (of President Pervez Musharraf) to visit Pakistan but some ground will have to be prepared for it," the PM remarked in response to reporters’ questions at an Iftar party he hosted in the capital on Saturday evening.

"We have agreed to a mechanism (to fight terror). Let us see how it works. I hope Pakistan is serious about it," he said.

However, Singh gave away little on the appointment of the new Foreign Minister. He was "hopeful" nevertheless that he would be able to fill the Cabinet-level vacancy before the November 13-14 Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary-level talks in Delhi, after which the composite dialogue, as has been the practice in the earlier two rounds, would happen at the level of ministers.

On the demand for clemency for Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament House attack case, the PM said the “due process of law has to be followed” in coming to a conclusion on the tricky issue.

For her part, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who mixed around freely with guests, did not take any political questions.

“This is not the occasion to discuss politics,” Sonia said. When asked as to why she has stopped hosting Iftar parties, she said as the Congress was in power now, it has reverted to the tradition dating back to the days of Indira Gandhi, of the PM playing the host.

First Published: Oct 21, 2006 02:26 IST