HAVANAFinally, the suspense is over. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday at the Protocol House in the centre of the Cuban Capital.
The outcome of the hour-long meeting? Musharraf was expansive and flamboyant as ever: "I am very happy with the talks. Mohabbat Zindabad".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was as always, more guarded: "We have decided to work for peaceful negotiated settlement of all issues between the two countries including Jammu and Kashmir in a sincere and purposeful manner."
Reading out the Joint Statement, the Prime Minister said he and Musharraf had cordial, frank and detailed exchange of views on all aspects of Indo-Pak relations.
"In furtherance of carrying the dialogue process, we reiterated our commitment to implement the Joint Statements of January 2004, September 2004, April 2005 and September 2005", the Statement said.
Noting that they had met in the aftermath of July 11 Mumbai blasts, which led to a chill in the bilateral
ties, the statement "strongly condemned all acts of terrorism".
Agreeing that terrorism is a scourge that needs to be dealt with, Singh and Musharraf, the statement said, "decided to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations."
The decision to set up the new mechanism comes close on the heels of India asking Pakistan to take concrete action on the ground to stop terrorism emanating from that country if it wanted the peace process to move forward.
On J&K boundary issue, the joint statement read out by Singh said both leaders had useful discussions. "There is a need to build on convergence and narrow down divergence."
The statement said the two leaders had directed their foreign secretaries to meet shortly in New Delhi to continue the dialogue and to maintain consultations for an early solutions of various issues. "We directed the Foreign Secretaries to resume the Composite Dialogue Process at the earliest":
The two leaders also directed the Foreign Secretaries on the following:
- The Foreign Secretaries should meet shortly in New Delhi to continue the Composite Dialogue.
- To arrange consultations for early solution of the Siachen issue.
- Experts should meet immediately to agree on coordinates for joint survey of Sir Creek and adjoining area, without prejudice to each other's position on the issue. The survey should commence in November 2006. The experts should start discussions on the maritime boundary.
- The two sides will facilitate implementation of agreements and understandings already reached on LoC-related CBMs, including bus services, crossing points and truck service.
Musharraf, as expected, also once again extended an invitation to
Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan. What about him? Would he visit India? "If
invited, I'll go," he immediately shot back. Thanking Musharraf, Manmohan
did not invite him, but said: "I told the President I'm looking forward to
a purposeful visit at a time to be decided through diplomatic channels".