Pak looking to fully utilise Gilanis India visit

Islamabad: Ahead of Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani`s visit to India on Wednesday for the cricket World Cup semi-final, Pakistan has said it is working to "fully utilise the occasion" to improve the bilateral ties and "bridge the communication gap" between the leadership of the two nations.

Making it clear that Gilani is visiting India primarily to watch the Pakistan-India semi-final and "not to discuss the Kashmir issue", Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, however, said the two Prime Ministers "could discuss anything on the occasion".

Awan made the remarks while briefing the media yesterday about a meeting of the federal Cabinet chaired by Gilani to brief his colleagues about his visit to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

She said Pakistan`s Foreign Office and its High Commission in New Delhi are working to "fully utilise the occasion" to improve relations between the two countries.

Gilani`s visit will be used to "bridge the communication gap" between the leadership of the two countries following the gesture of goodwill by the Indian government, she said.

Gilani believed Singh`s invitation was a significant step forward on the diplomatic front and Pakistan government had accepted it in the larger interest of the country, she added.

Asked if the PPP-led government had taken the security establishment and opposition parties into confidence before accepting Singh`s invitation, Awan said "all stakeholders" had been taken on board.

There would be greater clarity a day before Gilani`s India visit about the delegation that will accompany him and the issues that could be discussed during the meeting in Mohali, she said.