New Delhi, Apr 8 - Linking the progress in bilateral ties to Pakistan taking action against Hafiz Saeed and others responsible for Mumbai terror attacks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today plainly told President Asif Ali Zardari that this was important for normalisation of relations between the two neighbours.
Zardari, who made a stopover in the capital for little over two hours on his way to pilgrimage to Ajmer, heard from Singh a reiteration of India's commitment to engage with Pakistan but was left in no doubt that action on terrorism was an essential step towards that.
Singh brought up the issue of terrorism "affront" and activities of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, on whom the US announced a USD 10 million bounty although Pakistani leader had said in Lahore yesterday that he did not expect Singh "will make me sit (and discuss only) this issue."
"Taking up the issue of terrorism, the Prime Minister told Zardari that it was imperative that perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack be brought to justice and prevent activities aimed against India from Pakistani soil. He also discussed the activities of Hafiz Saeed," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters here.
"The problem of terrorism which is a major issue by which the Indian people will judge progress in bilateral relationship," Mathai quoted Singh as having told Zardari.
The 40-minute one-on-one meeting between the two leaders covered a wide gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues and in brief comments to the media, Singh and Zardari termed their talks as "constructive" and "fruitful" where they agreed to continue with step-by-step approach in addressing issues like Kashmir, Siachin and Sir Creek among other matters.
Singh played host to Zardari and his son Bilawal along with few other members of 40-strong entourage at his Race Course Road residence.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Home Minister P Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani and Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik were among the 20 guests at the lunch. PTI