Manmohan, Gilani Talks Begin

Addu Atoll (Maldives), Nov 10 (IANS): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday began their first official talks since last April in this picturesque island.

The talks were preceded by a breakfast meeting between the two foreign secretaries, India's Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan's Salman Bashir. The talks at the Shangri La Hotel on the margins of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit are expected to last 90 minutes.

Before sitting down, the two leaders came outside the meeting room to pose for photographs.

This is the first official talks between the two prime ministers since they met in the Thimphu last April. The two leaders had also met in Mohali March 30 during the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final.

The discussions take place amid improving atmospherics in bilateral ties triggered by positive gestures like Pakistan's quick action in releasing an Indian military helicopter and crew within hours after it strayed into Pakistani territory last month.

India is expected to press for justice for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but the focus will be on carrying forward the peace process, given fresh momentum with Pakistan according its eastern neighbour MFN status.

"It's not a lost cause (26/11) as far as we are concerned," an official source said.


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