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Pakistan’s PM optimistic about talks with India

Pakistan’s PM optimistic about talks with India
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First Published: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 04 51 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 04 51 PM IST
Islamabad: Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani set off for an international conference in Egypt on Tuesday, saying he hoped discussions there with his Indian counterpart would get peace talks back on track.
India put a pause on talks with old rival Pakistan after a militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in November in which 166 people were killed.
India said the assault was carried out by Pakistani militants who must have had help from Pakistani security agents. Pakistan has denied any involvement by state agencies and says it will prosecute militants suspected of involvement.
Gilani is due to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the margins of a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt. Their top diplomats will meet there on Tuesday.
Pakistan wanted cordial relations with all its neighbours, Gilani told reporters before his departure.
“I am sure that such interactions would be really beneficial for the country,” he said, referring to the meetings in Egypt.
The nuclear-armed neighbours launched a “composite dialogue” covering all of their disputes in early 2004 after nearly going to war for a fourth time since 1947.
Gilani said the two countries had been “moving in the right direction” until the Mumbai attack and the pause India put on the talks had only benefited the terrorists.
“When there will be more interaction, I think that will pave the way for the composite dialogue and for more interaction with the Indian government,” he said.
Pakistan is keen to revive the five-year talks but Singh has insisted Pakistan must first show it is serious about taking action against militant groups that launch attacks in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region and elsewhere in India.
Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said at the weekend Pakistan had completed its investigation into five suspects accused of links to the Mumbai attack, and they were expected to be put on trial this week.
Pakistan also handed a fresh dossier on its probe into the Mumbai attack to India on Saturday.
The suspects include Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander of the banned Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, who is accused of masterminding the attack.
India was angered by a Pakistani court decision in June to release from house arrest Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of the LeT, whom India accused of plotting the Mumbai assault.
The federal government this month lodged an appeal in the Supreme Court against Saeed’s release. The Supreme Court began hearing the appeal on Tuesday but adjourned the hearing until 16 July.
Saeed was put under house arrest in early December after a U.N. Security Council committee added him and an Islamist charity he heads to a list of people and organisations linked to al Qaeda or the Taliban.
The talks between Singh and Gilani will be the second meeting between leaders of the two countries since the Mumbai attacks.
Singh met President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of a regional summit in Russia last month.
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First Published: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 04 51 PM IST