Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday underlined the need for a “proper atmosphere” before he visited Pakistan in deference to repeated invitations extended by its leadership. There should be a general feeling in India that Islamabad was doing all it could to deal with terrorism directed against New Delhi from Pakistani soil, he said adding that a crucial test of Pakistan’s sincerity would be the court trial in Rawalpindi of the seven persons charged with plotting the Mumbai massacre.

The Pakistani leadership told him that it was doing all that was possible subject to the vagaries of the court process. Dr. Singh said he reminded President Asif Ali Zardari of his statement that there were “doable” issues like Sir Creek and felt both sides should “push that process further.”

The issue could be considered in detail when the two Foreign Ministers meet in Islamabad a week later to review the progress of several rounds of previous official-level interaction and chart the road map of bilateral dialogue.

Dr. Singh met Mr. Zardari in Tehran on Thursday. Briefing journalists after the interaction, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai mentioned the Prime Minister as having said that speedy and successful conclusion of the trial would be a major confidence building measure and help to bridge the trust deficit. However, Mr. Mathai would not link the Prime Minister’s visit to the prosecution of the seven held in Pakistan for plotting the 26/11 attacks, but said the trip should be well-prepared.

Recently Mr. Zardari extended a formal invitation to Dr. Singh to visit Pakistan around Guru Nanak Jayanti in November. He also suggested a visit to Gah, the area from where Dr. Singh hails.

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