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Need to avoid conflict with India: Pak army chief

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | December 29, 2008 18:17 IST
Last Updated: December 29, 2008 19:41 IST

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Pakistan's army [Images] chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday emphasised the need to avoid a conflict with India in the wake of the Mumbai [Images] attacks as China launched a diplomatic initiative to ease tensions by dispatching a top diplomat to Islamabad [Images].

Kayani's comments, believed to be his first on the situation, came during his talks with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei, who is in Islamabad.

"The army chief highlighted the need to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security," said a brief military statement, which was issued after He Yafei's talks with Kayani and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen Tariq Majid.

Kayani claimed that Islamabad has been exercising restraint, but at the same time insisted that his country reserved the right to defend itself in the event of any aggression.

Kayani and Majid described as baseless allegations levelled by India against Pakistan, the reports said.

He Yafei, the Vice Foreign Minister of Pakistan's all-weather ally China who arrived in Pakistan on Sunday, also met interior ministry chief Rehman Malik, a day after his talks with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

He Yafei's visit here came days after Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi spoke to his Indian and Pakistani counterparts, Pranab Mukherjee [Images] and Shah Mahmood Qureshi respectively, on the situation in the subcontinent.

Yang pressed both countries to move ahead with the peace process and maintain stability in the region.

He Yafei on Sunday called on India and Pakistan to work together to defuse tensions. He also stressed the need for maintaining peace and stability in South Asia and said escalation of tensions was not in the interest of India or Pakistan.

The Chinese minister was told by his interlocutors that Pakistan is ready to carry out a joint investigation into the Mumbai attacks and will take action against anyone found involved in the terrorist incident if New Delhi [Images] shared evidence with Islamabad, Daily Times newspaper reported.

He Yafei is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images].

Over the past few days, China has stepped up efforts to defuse tensions between Pakistan and India.

The Chinese minister has assured his interlocutors that his country will remain in close contact with Pakistan in pursuance of peace and stability.

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