Manmohan, Gilani break Indo-Pak ice at Thimphu

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Thimphu | Updated: May 1 2010, 04:28am hrs
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani on Thursday agreed to think afresh on the way forward and asked the foreign ministers and foreign secretaries of the two countries to work out the modalities to pave the way for a substantive dialogue. The two sides have decided to meet as soon as possible, said foreign secretary Nirupama Rao after the meeting.

The dramatic announcementto raise the dialogue to the political levelcame after an hour-long one-on-one meeting between the two Prime Ministers, without any official note-takers, here in the pristine Bhutanese capital, on the sidelines of the 16 th Saarc summit.

But, according to highly placed sources, New Delhi was not going to go back to the old format of the composite dialogue process, which had eight themes and sub-groups.

India and Pakistan had stalled the composite dialogue process after the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008, though the two sides kept meeting on the fringes of multilateral meetings in the last 17 months. Foreign secretaries of the two countries had met in February this year in New Delhi for the first official engagement since the attacks.

Prime Minister Singh told Gilani that he was concerned at the slow progress in the Mumbai terror attacks case, and although India is willing to discuss all issues of concern, the issue of terrorism is holding back the dialogue process.

Gilani assured Singh that Pakistan was serious in combating terrorism and that all efforts are being made to bring the trial of the Mumbai accused to a speedy conclusion.

Rao said that the focus is on charting the course for the future, as the searchlight is on the future, not on the past.