NEW DELHI: The widely anticipated but eventually unscripted and informal meeting between the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers in Seoul has nudged the dialogue process between their officials to be a result-oriented exercise, scant insights into the brief meeting on the margins of an international nuclear summit there indicated on Tuesday.
The Hindu newspaper said the “unscheduled and unscripted” meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani seemed to have been a positive event.
It quoted a brief note from the Pakistani Prime Minister’s office as saying that both leaders “expressed their desire to intensify the dialogue process for further engagements” [sic].
An Indian account of the meeting was not immediately available.
Speaking to an Indian news agency soon after, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar did not provide additional details of the meeting, The Hindu said. But she stressed that both countries recognised the need to go beyond the stage of dealing with the “trust deficit” and move towards a “result-oriented dialogue”.
She said it was fortunate that the leadership of both Pakistan and India — she identified in particular President Asif Ali Zardari, Mr Gilani, Dr Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi — was committed to taking the bilateral relationship forward through dialogue. “But the people of both countries need to have the confidence that this dialogue will help Pakistan and India resolve their issues.”
Ms Khar said it was a good thing that Indian and Pakistani leaders had a chance to meet each other in international and regional forums.
“Speaking of regional forums, one of the most important ones is Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). But unfortunately, instead of going forward, Saarc has been held back by the India-Pakistan issue.”
Asked about the next steps forward, Ms Khar said she was looking forward to welcoming External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna in Islamabad in July.