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Gilani arrives in Mohali; hails PM’s initiative

Gilani arrives in Mohali; hails PM’s initiative
PTI
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First Published: Wed, Mar 30 2011. 01 31 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Mar 30 2011. 01 31 PM IST
Chandigarh: Expressing happiness at the resumption of dialogue, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani arrived here for witnessing the high octane cricket World Cup India-Pakistan semi-final encounter and for talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
Key clashes in India vs Pak semi-final (Slideshow)
Gilani, who landed in a Pakistan Air Force aircraft on his first visit to India, was accompanied by his wife Fauzia and was received at the defence airport here by Union minister of state for communication Sachin Pilot and Pakistan high commissioner in India Shahid Malik among others.
The 58-year-old leader will travel to the Taj Hotel where after some rest he would proceed to the Mohali stadium accompanied by his wife and some ministers to watch the match.
The Pakistani leader will be received at the stadium by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh around 1:45 p.m. Both the leaders will then be introduced to the players of the two teams before the start of the match.
In between watching the match, the two leaders will hold talks followed by early dinner at around 7:30 p.m.
Mixing cricket and diplomacy, Prime Minister Singh invited Gilani for watching the match and for a round of talks after it became clear last week that the two teams will face off in the semi-final.
Before leaving for India, Gilani told reporters in Rawalpindi that he was happy at the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan and that both the prime ministers were committed to work for peace and prosperity in the region.
“As far as our relations are concerned, I am happy that our talks have resumed. The talks between the Interior Secretaries were conducted in a positive manner. I appreciate that,” Gilani said.
He described Singh as an experienced politician with a positive attitude.
“He (Singh) wants to work for peace and prosperity in this region. We are both committed to this and we want the environment to improve so that we can serve the people,” Gilani said.
“I have never seen him (Singh) being negative about this. I have always found him to be positive,” he said.
Gilani said he expected his visit to lead to “some progress” between the two countries and “an improvement in relations”. Besides, the Pakistan team “will get a boost”, he added.
Asked if he would try to move from playing “a one-day series to a longer series” during his talks with Singh at Mohali, Gilani replied: “Naturally when we go (to India), the talks will be held according to the opportunity.”
In response to another question on whether he would bowl a googly to Singh, Gilani said, “I am going to watch the cricket match. It’s too early to expect (anything).”
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First Published: Wed, Mar 30 2011. 01 31 PM IST