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Pakistan's take on Zardari-Singh lunch diplomacy

April 05, 2012 17:33 IST

Pakistan on Thursday said the upcoming meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will contribute to intra-regional peace though there would be no compromise on the "core issue" of Kashmir or maintaining a credible nuclear deterrence.

"We are of the view that the upcoming meeting between the President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over lunch will contribute towards achieving the President's vision to promote intra-regional peace and prosperity in this part of the world," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing.

He said Pakistan is looking forward to a "constructive engagement between the two leaders" when Zardari travels to India on April 8 for a day-long private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.

Before travelling to Ajmer, Zardari is scheduled to meet Dr Singh over lunch in Delhi.

Both sides have not provided any details about the agenda for this meeting though Basit said the two leaders "would discuss all the issues which continue to take priority in our bilateral relations".

"These meetings at the summit level are always very helpful but that does not mean that we have compromised on our principled positions on other issues, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," Basit said in response to questions about Zardari's visit to India, the first by a Pakistani head of state since 2005.

The Kashmir dispute is a "core issue" between the two countries and Pakistan believes that its "just and fair settlement is a sina qua non for establishing viable and lasting peace in South Asia", he said.

"There is no question about changing our position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," Basit added.

Asked about the recent induction of a Russian-made nuclear submarine in the Indian Navy, the spokesman said Pakistan was "cognisant of the requirements to maintain the credibility of its deterrence".

"There is no question that we, for a moment, are oblivious to developments taking place in our region.

"Pakistan, under all circumstances, will maintain the credibility of its nuclear deterrence," he said.

Referring to the UN Special Rapporteur's report on Jammu and Kashmir, Basit said Pakistan agreed with the findings.

He said the international community was focussing on what he described as the "grave and serious" human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir and called for the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other such laws.

He claimed the people of Jammu and Kashmir were campaigning for the "right to self-determination".

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