`Terrorism issue discussed in PM-Zardari talks`

Pawan Kumar Bansal asserted that terrorism issue had not taken a backseat in the talks with Pakistan President Asif Zardari.

New Delhi: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs
Pawan Kumar Bansal on Monday asserted that terrorism issue had not
taken a backseat in the talks with Pakistan President Asif
Zardari and India had made this clear to him during his visit
to the capital.

Bansal, who was the minister-in-waiting for Zardari
during his one-day visit to India yesterday, said he found the
Pakistan President as a person having an open mind on issues
and exuding a lot of warmth.

"I found that he has a strong belief that terror anywhere
in any form has to be rooted out. I felt that there
is anxiety and a wish in his heart that both countries
progress and problems of poverty, and other issues common to
both countries get solved," Bansal said when asked if the
issue of terrorism came up during the talks.

The minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines
of a press conference here.

He, however, clarified that there was no conversation
between him and Zardari or Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman
Malik about Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.

Asked if terrorism had taken a backseat during these
talks yesterday, Bansal replied in the negative, saying, "No,
no. Our Prime Minister has made it abundantly clear (that
terrorism is an issue)."

He hastened to add that he was not privy to the
conversation between Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan

The minister said relations between India and Pakistan
were on an upswing and there is a "good rapport" between the
two countries.

The Lok Sabha Speaker visited the neighbouring country
recently and visits of officials from ministries like
Environment and Law are in the offing, he said.

Bansal revealed that he interacted with Malik in Punjabi and when Zardari found this, he too switched to the language.

The minister maintained that his main job was to chaperon
the visiting President and he had no interaction with him on
any contentious issue.


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