The Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan will meet in New York on Sunday in an effort to breathe life into a bilateral relationship that has floundered in recent months following the killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Indian side of the Line of Control in August and an earlier incident in which an Indian soldier was beheaded in January.
Manmohan Singh mentioned the forthcoming meeting in a statement issued on Wednesday prior to his departure from New Delhi for a five-day visit to the United States and the United Nations General Assembly.
Indian officials said the meeting would take stock of the bilateral relations, focusing especially on terrorism, the violence along the LoC, as well as the “unfinished agenda on the economic and trade side.” Regional issues like Afghanistan would also be discussed.
Asked what had changed since Dr. Singh said in January that there could be “no business as usual” with Pakistan, a senior official said there was now a new government there which had made a number of positive statements. There were of course still differences between the two countries “but then you don’t talk peace with friends.”
The official said India and Pakistan were actively exploring the possibility of India exporting electricity and gas to West Punjab, currently reeling from lengthy power cuts.
The Prime Minister will also be meeting his Bangladeshi and Nepali counterparts while in New York.
The official said the government was committed to implementing the land boundary agreement with Dhaka and intended to table the matter in the winter session of Parliament.
Asked about the possibility of a meeting between the U.S. and Iranian presidents, the official said India always 0maintained that Iran and the U.S. should engage with each other and that that was the best way to resolve the nuclear issue. “We see Iran as a factor of stability in the Gulf and Afghanistan, as a supplier of energy and as a transit point to Central Asia. So our interests in this are very clear.”