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December 25, 1999
Centre in touch with Taliban
Special Correspondent in New Delhi
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has said India is in direct touch with the Afganistan civil aviation minister and the Kandahar administration.
New Delhi has appealed to Kabul to stop the plane in Kandahar itself while ensuring safe return of the passengers at the earliest, he said.
Addressing the media after a meeting of the core ministerial group and the National Security Council at Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence today, Singh said he did not have any information about the identity of the hijackers.
He said a request has been made to the Taliban regime to provide all assistance to the passengers on humanitarian grounds. "We expect all cooperation from them", he said.
He said the Kandahar civil aviation authorities have provided food, water and medicines to the passengers.
As for the government stand, the minister said Vajpayee had clearly stated the Centre's position in this regard.
Addressing the media this morning, Vajpayee said, ''It is an act of cowardice. India would not cowed down by such tactics.''
Additional reportage: UNI
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