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Pak agrees to discuss
trade before Kashmir
May 03, 2003 10:12 IST
In an important policy shift, Pakistan has said it is willing to discuss trade issues with India and will give up its insistence to discuss Kashmir first.
"India has always said that it wanted to talk about trade issues and we have insisted that Kashmir should be discussed first...now we accept India's argument and would like India to take the first step," Pakistan Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said in an interview to BBC Hindi Service on Friday.
He proposed that gas pipelines to India from Turkmenistan and Iran be laid through Pakistan and said Islamabad is ready to give international guarantees to ensure that gas flow would not suffer even in the event of war or hostilities.
"India says we will profit from business and now we are also saying this. This is a new thing," Kasuri said.
On India's charge that Pakistan was promoting cross-border terrorism, the minister said: "There are many issues which we can discuss face to face."
Kasuri said before the prime ministers or foreign ministers of the two countries could meet, official-level discussions were necessary.
He said Pakistan's proposals to normalise ties with India were the result of "collective thinking."
On Friday, India and Pakistan decided to restore full diplomatic relations. Speaking in Parliament, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also proposed the restoration of air links on reciprocal basis, but Pakistan has not responded yet.
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