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|July 9, 1998||
Sharief's envoy says Pak is keen on resuming dialogue with India
Pakistan today expressed its keenness to resume its stalled dialogue with India on resolving bilateral issues, including the 50-year-old Kashmir imbroglio.
''After the nuclear tests in May last -- first by India and then Pakistan -- once again the strategic balance has been restored in the South Asian region. Besides stabilising the region, the deterrent has also reduced the chances of a future conflict,'' according to Pakistani prime minister's special envoy Akram Zaki.
Briefing the media in Kathmandu at the conclusion of his five-day visit to the Hindu Himalayan kingdom, Zaki said his country was keen to resume the Indo-Pak dialogue which has remained deadlocked since the past year. ''Hopefully, it should recommence once the two prime ministers (India's Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's Nawaz Sharief) meet during the upcoming tenth SAARC summit in Colombo later this month.''
Zaki, a former senior Pakistani diplomat and now member of the country's senate and chairman of its foreign relations committee, arrived in Nepal on July 4 carrying a letter from Nawaz Sharief to Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in which the Pak leader has reportedly sought his co-operation in promoting in SAARC, the Pakistani desire that the regional forum also take up bilateral issues. Sharief also conveyed to Koirala, Islamabad's perception of the prevailing situation in the South Asian region following the nuclear testing by both India and Pakistan.
Besides meeting Koirala, of whom Zaki is a brother-in-law, the Pak special envoy held discussions with deputy prime minister and water resources minister Shailaja Acharya, leader of the opposition and president of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninist), former premier Manmohan Adhikary and the presiding officers of the two houses of the Nepali parliament -- Pratinidhi Sabha speaker Ram Chandra Poudyal and Rashtriya Sabha chairman Beni Bahadur Karki.
Describing Nepal-Pak relations as ''trouble free'' and politically ''very good'', Zaki said both countries were ''very good friends'' and had shared a common desire to keep the South Asian region ''a nuclear-free area'' in which they failed ''not because of us but other reasons''.
Zaki said the Colombo SAARC summit would be ''a crucial one'' taking place in a newly nuclearised South Asian region where the grouping ''for its own survival'' must take steps to defuse tensions and restore mutual confidence.
From Kathmandu, Zaki left for Dhaka where he will deliver a similar letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Pak special envoy also has on his itinerary similar visits to Colombo and Maldives before the tenth SAARC summit.
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