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Fazlur Rehman calls on Vajpayee

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | July 20, 2003 18:28 IST
Last Updated: July 20, 2003 21:26 IST

Pakistani parliamentarian and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Sunday evening called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at his Race Course Road residence in New Delhi.

JUI vice-president Hafeez Hussain Ahmed and parliamentarians Gul Naseeb and Qazi Hamidullah accompanied him.

After the meeting, Rehman said Vajpayee had assured him that he would attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation meeting in Islamabad next year.

He said, "I told Prime Minister Vajpayee about the feelings of the people of Pakistan and how the peace initiative that he has undertaken is appreciated.

"Vajpayeeji told us that he would not like to hurry up and would like secretary-level talks to be held... and prepare the groundwork before a summit-level meeting between India and Pakistan. I fully agree with him.

"I told him that we stand for resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan through dialogue, including the issue that you refer to as cross-border terrorism."

He said India and Pakistan must resolve their problems in their own interest.

"India's stand and Pakistan's stand on Kashmir are known. We have to sit and discuss the issues and find a solution."

Asked what message he would carry to Pakistan, he said, "We will explain to them the kind of hospitality and warmth that we received from the people of India. We will explain our visit to them and the responses that we have got from Indian leaders."

Asked if he considered Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a terrorist, he said, "Why are you asking this question? What is your motive behind it? "We have come here for a different purpose. We are talking of peace and you are raising irrelevant issues."

The meeting was fixed in the afternoon. Besides Vajpayee, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra was present.

The government had sent an Ambassador car for the Pakistani delegates and assigned two policemen for their protection.

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