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PM to meet Zardari tomorrow

June 15, 2009 21:22 IST
In the first top-level meeting between India and Pakistan since Mumbai attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday and convey New Delhi's "unhappiness" over Islamabad's inaction against the terrorism.

Singh, who arrived here on a three-day visit to attend two multilateral summits, will also make it clear that New Delhi expects concrete steps by Pakistan to dismantle terror infrastructure on its soil, sources said.

The sources said terrorism is the core issue for India and till this is addressed, relations with Pakistan cannot become normal. This message is expected to be conveyed by Singh to Zardari.

They also pointed out that Pakistan is aware of India's expectation, which is "concrete action to dismantle terror infrastructure and particularly against those responsible for Mumbai attacks."

New Delhi notes that the Indo-Pak relations are under stress and the bilateral dialogue is on hold because of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, the sources added. Singh will emphasise India's expectations about cracking down on terrorism, they said.

The sources said that the meeting between Singh and Zardari should not be seen from the context of Composite Dialogue which remains suspended as India is not satisfied with Pakistan's action against terrorism so far. Sources said the steps taken by Pakistan to bring to justice Mumbai attackers and dismantle terror infrastructure are "far from adequate."

Singh and Zardari had last met in New York in September 2008 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, which was before the Mumbai attacks. The sources denied that there was any pressure on India to have this meeting.

Giving the background to the meeting, the sources referred to Prime Minister's statement in Parliament last week that it was in India's interest to have peace with Pakistan and New Delhi will meet "more than halfway" if they take effective steps against terrorism.

"If the leadership of Pakistan has courage, determination and statesmanship to act against terror, I assure them we will meet them more than halfway," Singh had said in the Parliament last week.

On perpetrators of Mumbai attacks particularly on Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Hafeez Mohammad Saeed, India says Pakistan's action do not meet its requirements. Justifying the decision to have the meeting with Zardari, sources said India need not be nervous to express its position if there is an opportunity to convey it at the highest level.

Ahead of his departure, Singh said India was ready to play its role in global efforts to overcome the economic slowdown. "India is among the fastest growing BRIC (Brazil- Russia-India-China) economies, and we are ready to play our part in coordinating international efforts to overcome the ongoing financial and economic slowdown," Singh said in a statement.

Singh said the BRIC grouping has the potential to lead global economic growth. Besides Zardari, the Prime Minister will meet world leaders during his visit where he will attend the Brazil- Russia-India-China and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summits.

Ajay K Kaul in Yekaterinburg (Russia)
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