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Manmohan Singh, Zardari meet on sidelines of NAM Summit in Tehran

Tehran, Aug.30 (ANI): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Asif ali Zardari on the sidelines of the ongoing XVIth Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit here on Thursday.

The two leaders met each other along with their respective delegations for about 30 minutes, during which they discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest to the two countries.

Official sources said there was no one to one meeting between Dr. Singh and President Zardari.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon , Foreign Secretary Ranjan  Mathai, besides other senior officials were part of the Indian delegation at the talks.

The Pakistan delegation at the talks included among others Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and President Zardari’s son and co-Chairman of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, besides senior officials of the Pakistan Foreign Office.

Dr Singh had last met President Zardari in New Delhi on April 8 this year, when the latter had undertaken a private visit to India to pray at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer, Rajasthan.

During that visit, Zardari and Dr. Singh held “friendly” talks in private at the Indian Prime Minister’s official 7 Race Course Road residence in New Delhi, which was followed by a lunch.

The two leaders then said that they both desired “normal relations” between the two countries.

The Indian Prime Minister had also then revealed that he had accepted an invitation from President Zardari to visit Pakistan as soon as mutually acceptable dates were worked out.

Relations between the two countries have been gradually improving since peace talks were derailed after the November 2008 terror strike on Mumbai that claimed 166 lives.

While en route to Tehran to attend the NAM Summit,  Indian officials had said that terror could be high on the bilateral agenda.

They said that India would flag its continuing concerns over the lack of action against Pakistan-based perpetrators  believed to have been actively involved in 2008 Mumbai attack.

Thursday's bilateral meeting comes a day after India's Supreme Court confirmed a death sentence on Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 strike in Mumbai, for waging war against the state.

By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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