Pakistani, Indian PMs may break ice in Thimphu meeting: experts

21:33, April 26, 2010      

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An emerging possibility of an exclusive meeting between the prime ministers of Pakistan and India in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu during the South Asian summit on April 28 and 29 might serve as an ice breaker on certain critical issues between the two neighboring nuclear countries, Pakistani experts said Monday.

"I'll meet the heads of SAARC countries in Bhutan," Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters on Monday afternoon before leaving for the 16th summit of the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

"It would be another step after Sharm el-Sheikh to break the ice after Mumbai attacks if the two leaders do manage to meet," said Arshi Saleem, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Regional Studies in Islamabad.

"It is expected that the prime ministers of Pakistan and India would meet," Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told media about the possibility of a separate meeting between the two leaders.

"But the very fact that for several days, leaders from SAARC would be under one roof to discuss issues of mutual interest," Saleem told Xinhua.

"Pakistan is now only interested in talks between the leadership and is not very keen in yet another round of secretarial level talks," said Saleem, referring to a recently held secretarial meeting and several rounds of composite dialogues between the two countries that could not produce concrete results on certain nagging issues such as the inflow of water from India into Pakistani rivers.

"Talks on water distribution and other related issues are expected between India and Pakistan," former Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz commented about the summit that would have rounds of multilateral and bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the two-day summit.

As for the ice-breaking is concerned, Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said that India is considering Pakistani request of handing over of Ajmal Kasab, the only gunman caught alive in 2008 Mumbai siege that claimed 166 lives including six Americans and broke off the bilateral talks on peace process.

Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh met briefly at the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by U.S. President Barak Obama in Washington D.C. earlier this month. In July 2009, the two leaders met at the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh as well to discuss bilateral issues.

The South Asian summit, a regional economic and political platform, was established on Dec. 8, 1985, with seven South Asian nations as its members: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Afghanistan was taken onboard as the eighth member during the 14th summit in April 2007.

Source: Xinhua


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