The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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General & gentleman set up date
- Resuming peace process on top of Havana agenda

New Delhi, Sept. 8: Delhi has raised the stakes in the Prime Minister’s upcoming one-to-one with the Pakistan President in Havana, saying its outcome would decide if the composite dialogue can resume.

Foreign secretary Shyam Saran today formally announced that Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf would meet on September 15 or 16 on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in the Cuban capital.

The two leaders will go into the talks with a single agenda: how to restart the peace process, stalled since the July 11 Mumbai train blasts.

Singh and Musharraf, who got on well during their last meeting, are expected to have a frank discussion on terrorism. Indications are that Islamabad might make some concessions to get the peace process back on track.

Although both Delhi and Islamabad are eager to restart the composite dialogue, there has been little change on the ground. India argues an improvement in ties would be difficult unless Pakistan substantially addresses its concerns on terrorism.

The two countries’ officials have left it to Singh and Musharraf to break the deadlock.

“If the results of the summit meeting are satisfactory, if we see willingness to work together on the shared challenge of terrorism, then India and Pakistan should be working together,” the foreign secretary said.

The Indian high commissioner in Islamabad, Shiv Shankar Menon, had prepared the groundwork for the summit. He had met the Prime Minister in Delhi last week and conveyed India’s sentiments to the Pakistan government on his return.

Singh had said yesterday that terrorism would dominate his talks with Musharraf as the problem affects both countries. He is not in favour of interrupting the talks but wants a firm commitment that incidents like the Mumbai blasts would be prevented.

Saran said Pakistan knows what India’s concerns are and what steps it needs to take. Delhi wants Islamabad to close down terror camps operating on its territory, claiming there are 52 such camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The foreign secretary emphasised that Indo-Pak ties had not snapped after the Mumbai blasts.

“The FS-level (foreign secretary-level) talks could not take place because no dates were given,” he said. But the two countries have been doing business on other fronts.

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