Unscheduled and unscripted though it was, a brief, informal meeting ultimately did take place between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit which concluded here Tuesday.
According to a short release from the Pakistani Prime Minister’s office, 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 ANI soon after, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, did not provide additional details of the meeting but said 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 Asaf 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.