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Terrorism issue unlikely to take backseat in PM-Zardari talks: Bansal

New Delhi: Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal today asserted that terrorism issue had not taken a backseat in the talks with Pakistan President Asif Zardari and India had made this clear to him during his visit to the capital.

Bansal, who was the minister-in-waiting for Zardari during his one-day visit to India yesterday, said he found the Pakistan President as a person having an open mind on issues and exuding a lot of warmth.

PTI

"I found that he has a strong belief that terror anywhere in any form has to be rooted out. I felt that there is anxiety and a wish in his heart that both countries progress and problems of poverty, and other issues common to both countries get solved," Bansal said when asked if the issue of terrorism came up during the talks.

The minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference here. He, however, clarified that there was no conversation between him and Zardari or Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik about Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed. Asked if terrorism had taken a backseat during these talks yesterday, Bansal replied in the negative, saying, "No, no. Our Prime Minister has made it abundantly clear (that terrorism is an issue)."

He hastened to add that he was not privy to the conversation between Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The minister said relations between India and Pakistan were on an upswing and there is a "good rapport" between the two countries.

The Lok Sabha Speaker visited the neighbouring country recently and visits of officials from ministries like Environment and Law are in the offing, he said.
Bansal revealed that he interacted with Malik in Punjabi and when Zardari found this, he too switched to the language.

The minister maintained that his main job was to chaperon the visiting President and he had no interaction with him on any contentious issue.

PTI