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Cooperation holds key to peace: Vajpayee

August 10, 2003 21:08 IST

Asserting that 'cooperation' and not 'confrontation' held the key to solving problems between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Sunday said violence and bloodshed cannot provide any enduring solutions to differences between the two countries.

"We can live together only if we let each other live," Vajpayee said in a statement read out at a peace conference attended by Indian parliamentarians and journalists in Islamabad.

"Cooperation rather than confrontation is the answer to our common problems of development and poverty alleviation," the statement said.

In the message, he also referred to the process of globalisation and emerging trends of regional and sub-regional economic cooperation and said India and Pakistan should heed these winds of change in today's world.

Among the Indian delegates attending the conference are RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Balbir Singh Punj, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Jethmalani and senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar.

Vajpayee's statement said the meeting and themes for its discussions were a forceful reiteration of the popular desire in both the countries for a normal, peaceful, friendly and cooperative relationship.

It referred to his April 18 speech in Srinagar extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan and said people of the two countries at different levels and in their own way have contributed further meaning and content to his overtures.

"We must use this common yearning for greater interaction to lessen the misperceptions and mistrust between us," it said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her message said her party was committed to having cordial and good neighbourly relations with Pakistan.

"We have been in favour of a dialogue between the two countries for resolving all contentious issues. The Simla Agreement signed by Indira Gandhi and the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto... provides the framework within which the two countries can discuss all issues and build a durable friendly relationship," her statement said.

Among the Indian delegates who spoke at the inaugural session were Margaret Alva, Laloo Prasad Yadav, Ram Jethmalani, Moinul Hassan, Anadi Charan Sahu, Ramji Lal Suman most of whom called for dialogue on the basis of the Simla agreement.

Most of the Indian speakers referred to the militants' infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, describing it as the major cause of Indo-Pak tension.

Yadav, in his inimitable style, said everyone should play their role in tearing down the wall of hatred.

Speaker of National Assembly of Pakistan, Chaudhry Amir Hussain said, "The resolution of Kashmir dispute is vital for peace in South Asia we must strive to move in that direction."

"I hope that a sustained and structured dialogue between Pakistan and India will commence soon on all outstanding issues, including the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir under already agreed mechanism," he said.

He said the 12th SAARC summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad in January would hopefully provide new direction to the stalled process of regional cooperation. "We look forward to receiving Prime Minister Vajpayee in Pakistan on the occasion," he said.

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