New York: Despite stiff opposition in the wake of the Jammu attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at the United Nations (UN) on Sunday. Not much is expected from that meet beyond a handshake, but Manmohan Singh is already talking tough, calling Pakistan the epicentre of terror.
The Prime Minister also hit back at Sharif for his comments on Kashmir, making it clear that bilateral dialogue is the only way forward, after Sharif said the UN must intervene.
"There must be a clear understanding of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and that there can never, ever, a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India," the PM said.
Sources say the PM will speak about the Jammu attack- demanding some assurance by Pakistan to shut down terror; curb Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed and fast track the 26/11 trial.
But it remains to be seen if either side is able or willing to concede much.
Singh, who will be holding his first one-on-one meeting with Sharif on Sunday since the latter assumed office in June, said that he is looking forward to his meeting with the Pakistani PM and added that bilateral dialogue with Pakistan is the only way forward.
In his address to the UN General Assembly, he rejected the Pakistani Prime Minister's demand for resolution of the Kashmir issue on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions, saying India favoured settlement of all issues on the basis of the Shimla Agreement. He called Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India and said that there can never, ever be a compromise on the territorial integrity of India.
He reiterated that cross-border terrorism remains to be the main concern for India. He also added that the issues of peace, security and governance are important and need to be addressed.
Singh said terrorism remained a grave threat to security and stability everywhere and that it extracts a heavy toll of innocent lives around the world. "From Africa to Asia, we have seen several manifestations of this menace in the last few days alone," he said.
Raising concerns over other issues, he said that UN Security Council must be reformed to accommodate more developing countries. "Multilateral institutions need to be reformed urgently. We are dealing with lingering global economic slowdown, continuing volatility in financial markets. We will fall short of 2015 goals if only governance is paid importance instead of economy," Singh said.
It's a meeting that was agreed to months ago, when Nawaz Sharif had just been elected, and Manmohan Singh had some leeway in negotiating with Pakistan, but given terror attacks, a ceasefire in shambles and the opposition back home, the most one may expect is for them to meet, and agree to restart dialogue at some level.