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|July 17, 1998||
Resolve Kashmir to defuse tensions, Pakistan urges SAARC leaders
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's special envoy Muhammad Akram Zaki on Thursday urged south Asian leaders to pressure India to talk with Islamabad on the disputed Kashmir issue and defuse nuclear tensions in the region.
Zaki, who arrived in Colombo for talks with Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, said it was in the best interest of the entire region to resolve the longstanding political issues between Pakistan and India.
Zaki, who is the chairman of the Pakistan's Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he believed the threat of war, however, had subsided after Pakistan's retaliatory nuclear tests to restore parity with India.
He, however, warned that the stakes had been raised following the nuclear tests and urged the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as well as countries in the region to bring about talks to defuse the nuclear arms race in the region.
''It is in the interest of SAARC that all leaders should try to facilitate a dialogue,'' Zaki said shortly after arriving in Colombo to explain his country's security concerns ahead of the SAARC summit in Colombo on July 29.
Zaki said Kashmir could not be separated from the nuclear issue and urged leaders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to push Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to open ''serious talks'' with Pakistan.
He warned that regional trade and economic cooperation could not be achieved unless India and Pakistan resolved the Kashmir issue.
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