Singh stresses ‘permanent reconciliation’: Accord to resolve issues through talks
MOHALI: Pakistan and India moved a step closer to resumption of dialogue for normalising their ties soured by the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks when their prime ministers met here on Wednesday in a relaxed atmosphere provided by the Cricket World Cup semi-final match between their teams.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh agreed to resolve all issues through dialogue and give their nations peace and prosperity.
Talking to reporters, the two leaders described their meeting as `positive`.
Mr Gilani said his talks with Dr Singh on “all outstanding issues” focused on resolving them through dialogue. He said there was a consensus on the two sides that they had the will and ability to resolve their problems and this positive message needed to be conveyed to the world.
“We need to focus on dealing with our common enemy – inflation, poverty, hunger, disease and unemployment – for prosperity of the two countries,” he said.
Dr Manmohan Singh said that a “permanent reconciliation” was required with Pakistan.
“India and Pakistan should be working together to find cooperative solutions and need permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honour,” he said, adding: “We should put our ancient animosities behind us to attend to the problems of our nations.”
Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the match had “provided impetus” to efforts to rebuild cross-border relations.
“The meeting reaffirmed the intention that both countries want to take the process of dialogue ahead,” Ms Rao said, adding that “both sides have the same goal of normalisation of the relationship.”
“Today it is the Mohali spirit that pervades our relationship. This was an extremely positive and encouraging spirit that has been generated as a result of today`s meeting,” Ms Rao told reporters at the end of the talks between the two leaders.
She said Mr Singh and Mr Gilani had a wide-ranging conversation on a slew of issues of concern to the two countries, including the next moves in a dialogue process that is being resumed after a break over the Mumbai terror attack.
“Mr Gilani has invited Mr Singh to visit Pakistan and the proposal will be considered,” Ms Rao said.
Indicating a gradual thaw, the commerce, defence and foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet over the coming months, eventually leading to the resumption of the peace dialogue between foreign ministers of the two countries, she said.
Earlier, greeting the players on the pitch, Mr Singh and Mr Gilani shook hands first with the visiting Pakistani team. They then switched positions, with Mr Gilani and Mr Singh shaking hands with the Indian players before the two retreated to their seats in a private box.
Prime Minister Gilani said the match was instrumental in bringing the two nations closer. “Today`s match brought the people and leadership of the two countries together. This, I believe, is the positive outcome of today`s semi-final,” he said in a message.
Mr Gilani said winning or losing a game did not matter much than its quality and the team spirit. He congratulated both the teams for demonstrating sportsmanship and quality game.
He conveyed special felicitations to India`s winning team for showing better performance and determination. However, he said the Pakistan team did put up the resistance and played well but it was not their day.
He expressed the hope that there would be other occasions when both teams would play with each other, both in India and Pakistan.
The prime minister conveyed to the people of India that Pakistan desired good relations with India. “The resolution of all issues through dialogue will bring peace and prosperity to our people,” he said.
Mr Gilani also attended a dinner hosted by Dr Singh. The two leaders spent considerable time together at the dinner at the premises of Mohali Stadium.
They have been together since noon after Mr Gilani arrived in Chandigarh on the invitation of his Indian counterpart to see together the `clash of their teams`.