Jilani renews Pak's wish for Singh's early visit



Islamabad: Pakistan's wish that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should visit this country as early as possible has been renewed by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, who said "our doors are open for him always".

He said Pakistan would be very happy to welcome Singh as and when he decides to undertake a visit to the country by accepting an invitation extended to him by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

"We hope that the Prime Minister (Singh) will come.

Our doors are open for him always," Jilani told reporters.

He made the remarks after talks here yesterday between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

Speaking shortly thereafter, Krishna told Indian reporters late last night that Singh's possible visit to this country was not being linked to Pakistan's prosecution of the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"There is an invitation to the Prime Minister. We are at that point, so the question of any condition does not arise," Krishna said.

Krishna has said he will provide his assessment of his visit to Pakistan to the Prime Minister, following which a decision would be made.

He pointed out that visits by the Prime Minister entailed months of preparation, hinting that a visit was unlikely in the near future.

Pakistan's top leaders, especially Zardari, have been insisting on a visit by Singh to boost the bilateral peace process.

Jilani told reporters that all subjects, including the Kashmir issue, were discussed by the two Foreign Ministers.

Asked whether terrorism had figured in the talks, he replied in the affirmative and said both India and Pakistan "are and have been victims of this menace."

"Terrorism is of importance to both countries.

We are both victims.

We should develop a mechanism to deal with this," he said.

Pakistan would like India to deal with Siachen issue, Jammu and Kashmir and Sir Creek boundary dispute and "eliminate all contentious issues so that a better environment is created between the two countries," Jilani said.

He welcomed the upcoming resumption of cricketing ties between the two countries.

"Indian and Pakistan teams will play in India. Hopefully, matches will be played in Pakistan too," he said.

Asked about the decision of the Obama administration to designate the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organisation and whether he saw this development as possibly heightening tensions between the US and Pakistan, Jilani said:

"Pakistan is taking action against all those who are involved in terrorism."

PTI