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Manmohan, Gilani meeting unlikely at Washington

April 7, 2010

President Barack Obama will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani during the Nuclear Security Summit here but a meeting between the two premiers is not on the cards.

Obama’s meetings with Manmohan Singh and Gilani were listed by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Tuesday among a number of bilateral meetings that the president is planning to host as part of the April 12 and 13 summit.

But diplomatic sources ruled out any bilateral meeting between Manmohan Singh and Gilani on the sidelines of the summit, which would bring together leaders of besides India 46 other countries.

At their first meeting since the Nov 24 White House state dinner, Obama and Manmohan Singh are expected to discuss the path forward on the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal following the accord on reprocessing of nuclear fuel.

Gibbs said he was not “aware of any specific event around that (nuclear) issue.” But that’s something that President George Bush and President Obama both supported, he said. “I assume it will come up in their bilateral meeting next week.”

Catching up on their November meeting, Obama and Manmohan Singh are also expected to discuss the president’s upcoming trip to India, which would most likely come before fall, diplomatic sources said.

At the bilateral meetings with various countries Obama will take up issues that deal “directly with our proliferation efforts…There are (also) issues that may lie slightly outside of something like proliferation. Obviously the focus is on nuclear security,” Gibbs said.

He would talk about “what these countries we hope can and will do to ensure that they make every effort to lock down the type of vulnerable material that the President sees as such a danger,” he said.

Asked if the US would be pressing India or Japan or any other countries to get the issue of an overvalued Chinese currency on the G-20 agenda, Gibbs said: “I think there’s no doubt this is of great concern to a number of economies around the world.

But “the best thing to do” was to let US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and others “work through this process in upcoming meetings and evaluate where we are,” he said referring to G20 finance ministers meeting and the US yearly dialogue with the Chinese here.

Obama has spoken directly with the leaders in China about his concern and the “administration will continue to press the Chinese to value their currency in a way that’s much more market-based,” Gibbs said.

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