Pakistani, lndian leaders meet

June 16, 2009 12:00 am

, YEKATERINBURG, Jun 16 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari for the first time since the Mumbai attacks, bluntly declaring that Pakistani soil must not be used for terrorism.

"My mandate is to tell you that Pakistani territory should not be used for terrorism against India," the Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Singh as telling Zardari.

PTI said that the pair had earlier shaken hands but after Singh’s comments Zardari immediately asked journalists to be escorted from the room so the meeting could be continued in private.

The leaders were meeting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a regional security body where both India and Pakistan are observers.

India blamed the attacks — which left 166 dead — on Pakistan-based militants linked to the country’s powerful spy service and froze the four-year-old peace dialogue with its nuclear-armed neighbour and arch-rival.

PTI reported that Singh was also understood to have conveyed India’s "unhappiness" over Pakistani inaction against terrorism aimed at India.

New Delhi blames a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), for planning and launching the November assault in which 10 gunmen targeted multiple locations in Mumbai during a three-day killing spree.

Singh also expressed disappointment over the release of the Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed suspected by India of being among the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks, PTI said.

A Pakistan court earlier this month ordered the release of Hafiz, a founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and whose Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charity blacklisted in the West as a terror group.

Pakistan put Hafiz and three of his co-leaders under house arrest in early December and publicly shut offices of the charity.

The last high-level India-Pakistan meeting took place in September when Singh met Zardari on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.


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