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No dialogue till Pak stops terror, PM tells Obama

By M K Razdan in London
April 03, 2009 02:46 IST
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US President Barack Obama pushed for an Indo-Pak dialogue process but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear that a "minimum pre-condition" for it was that Pakistan should not allow its soil to be used to promote terrorism.

The newly elected US leader and Singh had their first substantive discussion on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in London and both described the talks as constructive and useful. They spoke warmly about each other with Obama calling the Indian leader "a very wise and decent man".

Shortly after their discussion, Obama told a press conference they had discussed terrorism emanating not only from Pakistan but also from Afghanistan. Then Obama went on to suggest that "it may make sense to create an effective dialogue between India and Pakistan in this nuclear age and at a time when perhaps the greatest enemy" of the two countries should be poverty. "But obviously we did not go into issues. We talked about a whole range of other issues for example related to energy," Obama said. 

At a separate press conference afater his meeting  with Obama, Singh told a Pakistani journalist his country had an opportunity to assure the world that it is absolutely sincere to ensure that Pakistani soil will not be allowed to be used to promote terrorism.
"This is a minimum pre-condition" for resumption of discussions, the prime minister asserted.
Singh said his first meeting with Obama was marked by "exceptional warmth and cordiality and that issues they had covered included the threat posed to all free societies from terrorism emanating from India's neighbourhood.
He and Obama had discussed international efforts required to deal with the problem of terrorism emanating from India's neighbourhood, Singh said, adding "we had a significant convergence of views and approaches in this regard."

Singh said that Obama had informed him of the new comprehensive US strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. "I welcomed his clear enunciation of the problems and the goals. India will continue to play a constructive role, working to build peace and stability in our periphery."
The Prime Minister said he and Obama had agreed that India and the USA must work together to counter the forces of terror.
The Indian leader said that Pakistan must do everything to bring all culprits involved in the Mumbai terror attack to the book. "The ball is in the court of Pakistan."
Regarding resumption of dialogue, Singh said that India has always expressed its willingness to discuss all issues but such discussions could not proceed if hundreds of people are killed as it happened in Mumbai.

On his talks with Singh, Obama said terrorism emanating from Pakistan figured as "obviously, we are very concerned about extremists and terrorists who have made camps in the border regions of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan."
The US President said he had discussed with Singh how to coordinate effectively on issues of counter terrorism.

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M K Razdan in London
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