PM links his Pak visit to progress in 26/11 case

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday linked the chances of him visiting Pakistan with the progress made in the trial of the Pakistani terrorists accused in the 26/11 attacks, identifying it at as a "crucial test of Pakistan's sincerity".

In response to queries on his conversation with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NAM Summit in Tehran and his pending invitation for the PM to undertake a visit to Pakistan, Singh said he was "very keen to visit Pakistan" but felt there was a need to first create a "proper atmosphere" for this event.

"There must be a general feeling that Pakistan is doing all that it could do to deal with terrorism directed against India from Pakistani soil, and in this context the court trial of those who have been charged with this heinous crime of Mumbai is a crucial test of Pakistan's sincerity to bring the perpetrators of these horrible crimes to book," he said.

For their part, Singh said, both Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik assured him that they were "doing all that is possible subject to the vagaries of the court process". It may be noted that India has agreed to take a positive view of Islamabad's request to send a second judicial team to visit India and cross-examine officials before whom Ajmal Kasab gave his confessional statement.

Further, Singh reminded Zardari about the Sir Creek issue which had been identified as a deliverable but there had been little progress so far.

PM invites Rahul to join Cabinet

ON BOARD PM'S AIRCRAFT: Ahead f his upcoming Cabinet expansion, PM Manmohan Singh Friday renewed his invitation to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to join his Cabinet. Asked about the role he thought Rahul should play in the near future, the PM said: "I have always been of the view that Rahul Gandhi should play a more active role in the government. I have invited him to be a member of the Cabinet on several occasions and I sincerely hope that this time he very seriously considers my request. But I have no inside knowledge of what he is planning." ENS

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