Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told the Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari that firm action needs to be taken against anti-India terrorism originating from Pakistan to allow forward movement in the bilateral relationship.

Making a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha on Mr. Zardari's visit and his meeting with Dr. Singh here on April 8, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna said it was made clear to Pakistan that India's concerns on terrorism had to be addressed if the people of the country are to support and sustain progress in bilateral relations.

Dr. Singh referred to public activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Mr. Zardari said the matter needed to be discussed further, Mr Krishna said.

Giving details of the 40-minute meeting between the two leaders on April 8, Mr. Krishna said both felt that “we need to move forward step-by-step and find pragmatic and mutually- acceptable solutions’’ to issues like Sir Creek, Siachen and Kashmir. They noted that there had been a steady progress in bilateral dialogue process which resumed last year and that it would continue as planned in the months to come, he said.

Dr. Singh and Mr. Zardari also discussed terrorism and the Prime Minister told the Pakistan President that "there is need to take firm action to curb terrorism to enable us to make forward movement in the bilateral relationship," Mr. Krishna said.

Mr. Krishna said Dr. Singh had conveyed to Mr. Zardari that "it was imperative to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice and prevent activities aimed against India from Pakistani soil. In this context, he also mentioned the activities of Hafiz Saeed carried out in public.

"It would be evident that our concerns on terrorism had to be addressed if the people of India are to support and sustain progress in bilateral relations," he said.

Mr. Zardari referred to judicial processes against Saeed and said the matter needed to be discussed further between the two governments, the External Affairs Minister said, adding it was noted that Home Secretaries are due to meet shortly and they would be discussing it further.

Zardari invites Manmohan

He said that during the meeting, Mr. Zardari invited the Prime Minister to visit Pakistan which was accepted with "pleasure" and that diplomatic channels would be used to work out mutually-acceptable dates and substantive preparations for that visit.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party sought to know why the Prime Minister was not making the statement on Mr. Zardari's visit and questioned his "continued and persistent absence" from the House.

The Prime Minister expressed appreciation of the fact that Pakistan has moved forward on trade-related issues and both the leaders felt that the two countries should tap the considerable potential of bilateral economic and trade ties for progress and prosperity of the two peoples.

Discussing developments in the region, the two leaders agreed to use the potential of regional cooperation for economic development of people of both countries, Mr. Krishna said.

"It was clear from the conversation that both countries consider the dialogue process and the improvement of bilateral relations as being in the mutual interest of the people of India and Pakistan," the Minister said.

The two leaders felt that priority needed to be given to issues of people-to-people contacts and in this context, they decided that a liberalised visa agreement which has been worked out should be signed during the next meeting of Home/Interior Secretaries, he said.