August 2, 2008 (AFP) – A summit of South Asian leaders was set to open in Sri Lanka on Saturday, with tensions between India and Pakistan likely to eclipse regional talks on trade, terrorism and poverty. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s new premier Yousuf Raza Gilani were due to hold their first-ever talks and the highest-level meeting between the nuclear-armed neighbours in 15 months.
They were expected to meet after the ceremonial opening of the two-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo, and at a time when their four-year-old peace process is under severe strain.
Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said the dialogue was in “a state where it hasn’t been in the past four years because we face a situation where things have happened in the recent past which were unfortunate.”
India has blamed “elements” in Pakistan — in other words, its spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — for the bombing of its Kabul embassy last month that killed about 60 people, including New Delhi’s military attache to Afghanistan.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied the allegation.
After the embassy attack, New Delhi said the peace