Manmohan Singh opened 'secret talks' with Kayani: Report LONDOM: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh opened secret talks with Pakistan Army chief ten months ago to build on the cricket-inspired diplomatic thaw between the two countries, a media report said on Saturday. Singh "appointed an unofficial envoy to make contact with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan's chief of the army staff who exercises de facto control over foreign policy," The Times reported. The talks, through a back channel, have encouraged the UK and US believe that the countries competition for influence in Afghanistan could be better managed during efforts to start a peace process, it said. The visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the semi-final match between India and Pakistan in the cricket World Cup last month has sparked hope of a diplomatic thaw between the two neighbouring countries. Kayani visited Kabul this week to meet members of the high peace council, a body set up by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to build contacts with Taliban groups. The army chief was accompanied by General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.