Addu Atoll (Maldives), Nov 10 (IANS) Amid a shrinking trust deficit but hoping to build on positive progress in bilateral ties, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in this picturesque island Thursday.
The two leaders are expected to discuss all issues in a bid to further ease ties between their countries. The delegation level talks, on the margins of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, will be followed by one-on-one discussions between the two prime ministers -- their first official talks since they met in Thimphu in April last year. They had also met in Mohali March 30 during the India-Pakistan cricket World Cup semi-final.
While the Indian delegation includes External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and India's High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, the Pakistan side comprises its External Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and other senior officials.
The talks were preceded by a breakfast meeting between the two foreign secretaries, India's Ranjan Mathai and Pakistan's Salman Bashir.
The talks at the Shangri La Hotel are expected to last 90 minutes.
Before sitting down, the two leaders came outside the meeting room to pose for photographs.
The discussions take place amid improving atmospherics in bilateral ties triggered by positive gestures like Pakistan's quick action in releasing an Indian military helicopter and crew within hours after it strayed into Pakistani territory last month.
India is expected to press for justice for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but the focus will be on carrying forward the peace process, which has been given fresh momentum with Pakistan according its eastern neighbour most favoured nation (MFN) status.
'It's not a lost cause (26/11) as far as we are concerned,' an official source said.