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|June 12, 1998||
Vajpayee predicts India, Pak will kiss and make up soon
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is convinced of a reconciliation between India and Pakistan -- the basic similarities between the people of the two countries, he says, would see to it.
Asked by Japan's Kyodo news service whether he foresaw a reconciliation between the two countries in the next 50 years, his answer was an optimistic "Why not in the next five years or one year?''
''The commonalities between the people of India and Pakistan will compel reconciliation. This will not only be the expression of the yearnings of the people of both sides but will also show the maturity of the political leaders,'' he said.
He reiterated that India and China should re-energise the existing mechanism for dialogue and move towards good neighbourly relationship.
Disagreeing with a suggestion that tension was mounting over the Kashmir issue, the prime minister said India was always prepared to have dialogue with Pakistan on all issues, including Kashmir. He made it clear there was no room for a third party involvement in the dialogue.
''We can and should resolve all outstanding issues through bilateral discussions, without outside mediation,'' he reiterated.
Vajpayee made it clear that India did not want a war with Pakistan. ''I have offered discussions on a no-first-use of nuclear weapons to Pakistan. However, it must be realised that the issue of nuclear deterrence must lead to the question of disarmament,'' he said.
Asserting that India conducted nuclear tests to safeguard its security, he said the Pakistani tests subsequently had confirmed that Islamabad's clandestine nuclear weapon programme had reached a point of no return.
''It also vindicated our assessment and policy as well as the measures that we took," he said, "We expect that those who disagreed with us will reassess their stand.''
On whether India would review its decision on voluntary moratorium on further nuclear tests, the prime minister said ''We have declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests. The concept is self-explanatory.''
He appealed to Japan and the international community to appreciate India's genuine concerns and the rationale underlying its decision to go in for nuclear tests.
''Our irreducible security concerns have been paramount in our decision. We are willing to participate in negotiations aimed at concluding a nuclear weapons convention which would be global, comprehensive and non-discriminatory,'' he said.
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