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India, Pakistan discuss communication links

August 22, 2005 17:14 IST

India and Pakistan discussed possibilities of enhancing air, rail and road communications between the two countries at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. Also discussed was the potential for bilateral cooperation in areas such as climate change and ozone depletion, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh informed the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Singh met Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan on the margins of the SCO Summit in July.

Making a suo moto statement on the SCO Summit, Singh, who held separate meetings with SCO leaders, said Chinese President Hu Jintao emphasised the need for cooperative partnership and coordination in international affairs.

During his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two sides reviewed Indo-Russian relations as well as the trilateral cooperation with China, Singh said. He said the basic objectives of the SCO, which comprises China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, were to strengthen mutual trust, good neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation among SCO member states.

The other objectives were maintenance of regional peace, security and stability, assistance for economic and social development in the region. At Astana, India, Pakistan and Iran were admitted as observers. Singh, who represented India, said the SCO Summit focussed on terrorism, drug trafficking and promoting economic cooperation.

Singh said he had useful bilateral meetings with the leaders assembled in Astana. "In view of our interest in strengthening relations with countries in our extended neighbourhood including Central Asia, it is in India's interest to be closely associated with the SCO," he said.

The minister said that the Kazakh President Nazarbayev welcomed economic cooperation with India.

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