PM to leave for Maldives tomorrow

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 10:47

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
leaves here tomorrow on a 4-day visit to Maldives to attend
the SAARC Summit on the margins of which he will meet his
Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Singh, who is accompanied by External Affairs Minister S
M Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and
Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, will head the India n
delegation to the Summit on November 10 and 11 in Addu Islands
in Maldives.

From there he will go to Male, the capital of Maldives,
on a bilateral visit.

But all eyes will be on the meeting between Singh and
Gilani that is likely to be on November 11 when bilateral
relations will come up for a review close on the heels of
Pakistan`s decision to give Most Favoured Nation status to
India.

There has been some sort of flip-flop on the part of
Pakistan in explaining the decision, a clarity on the issue
may come after the meeting.

Singh and Geelani had last met in Mohali in March on the
sidelines of the World Cup semi-finals between the two
countries. They had also met during the last SAARC Summit in
Bhutan in April, 2010.

Other issues, including Pakistan`s actions to bring to
justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks, are also
expected to come up during the Singh-Gilani meeting.

Briefing reporters on the visit, Mathai had said that
there were indications of forward movement in bilateral ties
between India and Pakistan. In this connection, he also
referred to the MFN issue.

During the 17th Summit, which is being hosted for the
third time by the Maldives, the main theme is `Building
Bridges` that includes improving the infrastructure of
connectivity and trade and better people-to-people contact.

In this Summit, four important agreements are to be
finalised. These will include two agreements on regional
standards, one to establish a rapid response mechanism to deal
with natural disasters, and another to establish a SAARC Seed
Bank.

Singh`s visit to Male is expected to inject new momentum
and content to India`s relations with close and strategic
neighbour in the Indian Ocean. The last bilateral visit by the
Prime Minister of India to the Maldives was in September,
2002.

The objectives of the visit would be to reinforce India?s
close bonds of friendship and solidarity with the Maldives and
to review the current status of our bilateral relations with
that country, officials said.

A number of agreements are likely to be signed during the
bilateral visit and Singh will address Majlis, the Parliament
of Maldives.

Among the agreements are a counter-terror pact and an
over-arching agreement that seeks to expand cooperation across
several areas between India and the Maldives.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 10:47

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