PM Manmohan Singh Open To Visit Pakistan

Welcoming Pakistan's move to liberalise trade with India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he could visit that country if there is something solid to celebrate.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) and his wife Gursharan Kaur (2nd L) visit the National Cemetery in Seoul on March 25, 2012 ahead of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. The summit on atomic safety on March 26-27 will focus on the threat from nuclear-armed terrorists and follows one in Washington convened by US President Barack Obama in 2010 on the same subject.

Welcoming Pakistan's move to liberalise trade with India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he could visit that country if there is something solid to celebrate.

On his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Singh said he thanked him for the trade concessions his government had made to India recently.

"I had a good meeting with him. I thanked him for the trade concessions that they have announced," the Prime Minister said on board his special aircraft while returning from a four-day visit to South Korea.

Singh said Gilani asked him when was he coming to Pakistan on an official visit.

"He (Gilani) said when are you coming there (Pakistan). So, I said let us do something solid so that we can celebrate," Singh said.

Pakistan had recently announced its decision to liberalize trade with India by moving from positive list to a shorter negative list of goods.

The Prime Minister said Gilani also asked him if India could supply power to Pakistan from Punjab.

"I said we will look into it," he said.

Singh and Gilani had a 'pull aside' meeting just ahead of the plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit.

"It was a pull aside, but a little more extended," foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said.

While Singh was accompanied by Mathai and national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, Gilani was accompanied by Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

Pakistan's trade concessions were seen as a move towards granting India the 'Most Favoured Nation' status under World Trade Organisation rules and a major boost towards normalising economic ties.

Briefing reporters on the meeting later, Mathai said both the leaders believed that things were moving quite well in bilateral relations.

He said Singh appreciated the fact that discussions on trade relations had moved forward as committed by Gilani.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said it was indeed his intention and commitment to go ahead with improving trade relations with countries.

Gilani told Singh that the decision on moving to the negative list for trade with India was not "entirely easy".

The Pakistan Premier said there had been differences on the issue but his government had decided to go ahead.

"The Prime Minister congratulated Gilani and said that he appreciated the move very much," Mathai said.

Both the Prime Ministers also talked about taking forward the bilateral ties forward in other areas of the relationship.

In a statement, the Pakistan Prime Minister's Office said Gilani had an informal meeting with Singh in Seoul.

The statement said both the leaders expressed the desire to intensify the dialogue process for further engagements.

Talking to media on the sidelines of the Summit, Khar said the two countries had to follow a result-oriented process.

She said the leadership of the two countries, including President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani and Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, were willing to work towards resolution of bilateral issues.

Khar said SAARC was a very important regional forum but it had not been able to make much progress because of bilateral issues between India and Pakistan.

Singh was in South Korea on a three-day bilateral visit and also attended the second Nuclear Security Summit.