| Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Havana on Saturday. (PTI)
Havana, Sept. 16: India and Pakistan today agreed to resume the peace process that had faced a setback following the Mumbai blasts in July.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries will resume the composite dialogue “at the earliest”, a joint statement issued here after an hour-long meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf said.
The two leaders directed the two foreign secretaries to meet “shortly” in New Delhi to continue the composite dialogue. Singh read out the statement to the media, with Musharraf sitting next to him.
In a brief interaction with the Indian media, the Pakistan President said he was “very happy” with the talks. When asked if he would call it a “breakthrough”, he remarked: “Yes. The joint statement is good. Mohabbat zindabad.”
The foreign secretary-level meeting will also arrange consultations for an early solution to the Siachen issue. Experts should meet “immediately”, the statement said, to agree on coordinates for a joint survey of Sir Creek and adjoining areas, “without prejudice to each other’s position on the issue”. The survey should commence in November.
The statement referred to the Mumbai blasts. The two leaders strongly condemned all acts of terrorism and agreed that the scourge of terrorism needed to be effectively dealt with.
Agreeing to discuss all aspects of India-Pakistan relations, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, they reiterated their commitment to implement the joint statements of January 6, 2004, September 24, 2004, April 18, 2005 and September 14, 2005.
Musharraf renewed his invitation to Singh to visit Pakistan. Singh indicated that he looked forward to a “purposeful visit” at a time to be determined through diplomatic channels.
The two countries also agreed to put in place an India-Pakistan anti-terrorism institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations.
This was the fourth meeting between the two leaders since Singh became Prime Minister. Except the one in New York last year, all these, like today’s, have been one-on-one meetings.
Indian sources here indicated that the discussions took final shape last night at official-level talks when both sides decided that each had to accommodate the other’s view on certain issues in order to make the Singh-Musharraf meeting substantive.