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PM describes meeting with Zardari 'good encounter'

Contending that there is an upsurge of infiltration from Pakistan, PM Manmohan Singh has said that only time can tell whether the country's new president has the will to fight terrorism.

world Updated: Sep 30, 2008 14:51 IST

Describing his last week's meeting with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari as a "good encounter", Singh said, "he (Zardari) had the right words."

The two leaders met for the first time in New York on last Thursday and decided to commence the cross-LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir. They also vowed to take "severe action" against any elements directing or involved in terrorist acts.

"We (India) have our preoccupations, notably as far as the origin of the attack against our Embassy in Kabul in July is concerned," Singh told French newspaper 'Le Figaro' in an interview.

"Only time will say whether Pakistan is in measure to go in the right direction. There is an upsurge of infiltrations from Pakistan and an increase of the violations of cease-fire. I informed President Zardari about these preoccupations. He answered that he has only become president for the last two weeks," Singh said.

On Afghanistan, he said India welcomes France's growing commitment to the strife-torn country as New Delhi thinks that it needs a lasting international assistance.

Regarding negotiations with the Taliban, we think that it is not possible to make a distinction between "good" and "bad" Talibans, Singh said.

"We are not opposed to efforts in view of a reconciliation and of a dialogue with various political groups, but we cannot extend it to those who aspire to destroy the idea of pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan or who are fundamentally opposed to it," the prime minister said.

Noting that he deeply regrets the attacks on Christians in several states, Singh said one should not generalise such incidents and draw a conclusion on the fate of minorities in India.

"There had been occasional accidents. Our Constitution guarantees the religious freedom.

"India is a secular country where all citizens have the same rights, whatever their creed is. I have myself condemned what has happened and I intervened in the concerned states," Singh said, when asked what was his answer to those who are worried about the attacks.

First Published: Sep 30, 2008 14:49 IST