November 10th, 2011
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Manmohan Singh to meet Gilani today

Manmohan Singh meets gilani at BaliAddu: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, today.  They are expected to review progress in bilateral ties against the backdrop of some positive developments witnessed lately.

The two leaders will meet today ahead of the inauguration of the two-day summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in the Addu atoll islands. The meeting between Singh and Gilani comes after they met in March in Mohali on the margins of the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final tie.

Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai noted that there have been “some positive indicators in the last few weeks” like Pakistan’s quick action in releasing an Indian military helicopter and crew within hours after it strayed into the Pakistani territory last month and the granting of the Most Favoured Nation status to India. Only a few days back Pakistan’s decided to grant the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ (MFN) trade status to India and the release of an Indian helicopter that had strayed into Pakistani territory.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said the dialogue process with India has increased the importance and effectiveness of the SAARC forum. “Naturally, Pakistan and India have a dialogue procedure under which everything is going in the right direction,” Mr Gilani told reporters in Lahore before leaving for the SAARC summit in Maldives.

Foreign Secretaries Ranjan Mathai and Salman Bashir expressed satisfaction on the engagement process and agreed that “stable, normal and predictable” ties were in their interest as well as the region’s.

The 17th SAARC summit has an overarching theme of “Building Bridges” and is expected to give fresh momentum to economic integration of South Asia, home to over one-fifth of the world’s population.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) comprises of seven founding members – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan joined the organisation in 2005 as its eighth member.

The summit is expected to culminate in a joint declaration Friday and four agreements that include a pact on creating a seed bank to boost agricultural productivity and another pact on setting up a rapid action force to deal with natural disasters like cyclone and quakes.


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