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Indo-Pakistan leaders may meet at SAARC

A meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the forthcoming Saarc Summit in Colombo cannot be ruled out though neither side has so far sought a meeting, officials here said Tuesday.

Traditionally, the summit of leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) has given leaders of South Asia the opportunity to meet on the sidelines. But, more often than not, such meetings are scheduled at the last moment, an official in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.

“Leaders of the Saarc countries have always met each other on the sidelines for a bilateral during the summit,” the official said, pointing out that such interactions on the sidelines were a regular feature at multilateral meetings.

“Please remember that a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf at the NAM Summit in Havana (in 2006) had been arranged at the last minute,” the official added.

South Block officials maintain that despite tensions between the two countries, it will be an extremely unusual step for the Pakistani prime minister not to meet his Indian counterpart in Colombo this weekend.

“Such meetings are scheduled a day or two before the summit,” the MEA official said. “We still expect a meeting between the two prime ministers to take place on the sidelines of the Saarc Summit.”

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