The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh limits hopes on Pervez talks

Havana, Sept. 15: Before they meet here tomorrow on the sidelines of the NAM summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf had a close encounter of the symbolic sort on their arrival at the Jose Marti airport last evening.

Singh had to wait more than half an hour inside Air-India’s special aircraft after it had landed at the airport. The reason: Musharraf’s plane had landed only minutes before. Singh had to cool his heels till the Pakistan leader got off his plane and left for the city in a convoy of cars.

Talking a few hours earlier to the Indian media accompanying him during his flight from Brasilia to Havana, Singh said he looked forward to meeting Musharraf to discuss several issues “in the limited time that will be available to us”.

They are meeting on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit, which this time will be like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark as the ailing Cuban leader and host Fidel Castro failed to appear at today’s inauguration.

Asked to react to Musharraf’s recent remark that Pakistan could not give “any more concessions” to India, Singh said he did not want to indulge in a public discussion with the General.

All issues relating to the control of terrorism would be discussed. Singh said India and Pakistan were conscious of their responsibilities in safeguarding “our sensitive installations”.

There were arrangements, he added, for India and Pakistan to exchange data about their nuclear installations. “We both recognise that this is a sensitive matter and that there is an obligation to work together.”

Singh was not certain, though, if there would be a joint declaration after the meeting. “It is not ruled out and it is not ruled in either.”

He had a brief meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the formal talks are expected later, an event that has generated a lot of curiosity.

Singh told the media accompanying him that Iran, as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, “must have all the rights that go with being a member of the NPT and it must also fulfil all the obligations”.

Ahmadinejad, who is already here, received the NAM ministerial committee’s support for Iran’s nuclear policy.

If there were doubts about Iran’s nuclear programme, these should be resolved “through dialogue… rather than through the exercise of coercive action”.

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