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Terror will dominate PM-Musharraf meeting

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Havana
Last updated on: September 15, 2006 18:39 IST
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"All issues related to the control of terrorism will feature in our discussions," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said early on Thursday, referring to his upcoming meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

"I am meeting him on the sidelines of the NAM (Non Aligned Movement) conference, so I will have limited time and President Musharraf will also have limited time," Dr Singh said. "So I don't promise you I am going to discuss each and every problem. But we are conscious of our responsibilities."

Asked if a joint statement would be issued after the meeting with General Musharraf, Dr Singh said, "It is too early to say. It is a meeting on the sidelines of the NAM conference. We will see how it specifically proceeds."

Dr Singh is likely to meet General Musharraf either on Friday or on Saturday.

The two South Asian leaders arrived in Havana, Cuba, for the NAM summit within 10 minutes of each other.

Dr Singh, who will spend three days at the the NAM summit, waited for 30 minutes before he could disembark after his arrival at 6.30 pm local time as General Musharraf arrived before we did.

After a red carpet welcome at the Jose Marti airport -- named after a Cuban revolutionary -- the prime minister met with the leaders of Mongolia, Malaysia, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.

A meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is also on the cards. Speaking to reporters aboard Air-India One, the special flight taking him to the NAM summit, about the Iranian nuclear issue, Dr Singh said, "Iran is a signatory of the NPT (nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty) and it has the right under the NPT to do what they want. If there are doubts about them then it can be resolved through a peaceful dialogue."

"The Non Aligned Movement is a state of mind. It will always be relevant," Dr Singh also said on Thursday.

The prime minister was responding to the criticism whether NAM is relevant in a unipolar world and whether there was any point in convening a meeting once in three years for the 116-member NAM.

"After the Cold War the Western world became complacent," Dr Singh said. "They felt capitalism would solve all the problems of the world but that never happened."

"After the Cold War ended," Dr Singh added, "there is talk of a war of civilisations and evil empires. In this scenario NAM wants to bring a new world order, away from fear and exploitation in a highly insecure world. NAM must live up to its new potential in the highly uncertain, insecure world that we live in."

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Havana