Zardari hopes Saeed won’t be the focus of talks

The Pakistani President says he doesn\'t expect issue of 26/11 Mumbai accused to be focus of his meeting with Indian PM.

Published: 07th April 2012 06:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 07:22 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday that he doesn't expect issue of Hafiz Saeed to be focus of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Focus will be on bilateral issues when Singh has a one-on-one meeting with Zardari, who is making a three-hour stopover in New Delhi on Sunday before flying to Ajmer to pay obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

No aides will be present from either side at the meeting to be held at Singh's official Race Course Road residence followed by lunch to be attended by select guests on both sides. During his day-long trip to India, Zardari will be accompanied by his 23-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who took over the reigns of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after the death of his mother Benazir Bhutto in 2007, interior minister Rahman Malik, Foreign Secretary, senior officers of Presidency and media.

"Though there is no structured agenda but the leaders are expected to focus on bilateral issues," officials sources said. Ahead of the visit both sides had made it clear that the two leaders will talk about issues of mutual concern. "..all bilateral issues are likely to be discussed...," external affairs minister SM Krishna has said.

With a renewed pressure on Pakistan to take action against Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11, after the US announcement of a USD 10 million bounty on the JuD chief, the issue is likely to figure during the meeting between the two sides. Ahead of the visit, the two countries have sparred over Saeed with Islamabad maintaining that they have not received any "concrete" proof against the JuD chief and New Delhi asserting that no amount of denial by them can exonerate him.

"The dossier that the home minister has provided to the Pakistan government contains every detail of Saeed's involvement in the planning and execution of terrorist attack on Mumbai. "So no amount of denial would exonerate them unless there is a judicial enquiry into the whole episode whereby responsibilities can be fixed but unfortunately Pakistan government has not thought it proper to investigate this," Krishna has said.

Krishna was asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's remarks that the matter of Saeed is an "internal issue" and if there is any concrete proof against the outlawed JuD chief then it should be provided to Pakistan. His remarks were immediately contested by Pakistan, which said India had not given "any solid and significant evidence" against Saeed.

"There is nothing concrete and maintainable. From its own Mumbai trial experience, India knows well that hearsay cannot substitute for hard evidence," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told PTI in Islamabad. Zardari had last met Singh on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Russia in 2009.


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