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Asif Ali Zardari, Manmohan Singh meet over lunch; say talks were fruitful

CNN-IBN
Apr 08, 2012 at 05:55pm IST

New Delhi: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived on Sunday afternoon in Rajasthan's Ajmer town to offer prayers at the dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.

The Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter in which Zardari travelled from Jaipur landed at the Ajmer helipad after 4 pm and he left in a convoy for the dargah, 12 km away.

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A Pakistan Air Force jet had earlier flown Zardari to Jaipur after a two hour visit to New Delhi after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a lunch for him after their talks that lasted 40 minutes.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the issue of Hafeez Saeed, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder who India feels masterminded the Mumbai attack, in his 40-minute talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday and said it was imperative that perpetrators of the 26/11 terror strike be brought to justice.

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"Taking up the issue of terrorism, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari that it was imperative that perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack be brought to justice. He also discussed the activities of Hafiz Saeed," India's Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters after the two leaders met here.

The issue would be further discussed during the proposed home secretary level talks between the two countries shortly, he added.

The US has recently announced a bounty of $10 million for the arrest and conviction of Saeed.

Asking Pakistan to take action against Saeed, the Indian home ministry has provided proof of the LeT chief's involvement in the planning and execution of the terror attack to the Pakistan authorities, but Hafiz continues to roam freely delivering hate speeches against India.

According to the Indian foreign secretary, Manmohan Singh and Zardari met for around 40 minutes before lunch and held a "constructive and friendly" dialogue in which they discussed a range of issues covering all aspects of bilateral interest.

Improving trade relations between India and Pakistan was touched upon, said Mathai adding the commerce ministers of the two countries had already discussed the issue in detail earlier.

"The prime minister appreciated that Pakistan has moved ahead on bilateral trade," said Mathai.

Ways to improve people to people contact between the two neighbours was also discussed, and it was decided that the liberal visa regime agreed upon in 2011 would be debated during the forthcoming meeting of the respective home secretaries, Mathai added.

Manmohan Singh has also agreed to visit Pakistan at an appropriate time upon President Zardari's request.

"The dates for the prime minister's visit will be worked out after the substantive preparations for it have been made," said Mathai.

He said the two leaders noted that there has been steady progress in the India-Pakistan dialogue, which was restarted in 2011 after a breakdown in 2008 in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

(With additional inputs from IANS)

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