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No mediation in talks: India

February 16, 2004 16:49 IST
Last Updated: February 16, 2004 16:53 IST

India on Monday voiced "optimism" over the outcome of the three-day talks with Pakistan and ruled out any mediation by the European Union or anyone else in the "bilateral" issues between the two countries.

"I am quite optimistic over the outcome of this round of talks [from Monday in Islamabad]. These are preliminary round of discussions on issues relating to the agenda, the level of talks and the time-frame in which the talks will be  held," External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha sadi after the India-EU Troika Ministerial meeting in New Delhi.

Observing that New Delhi was "grateful" to the EU for the offer to play a role in resolving Indo-Pak issues, he said it has been made clear that "as far as the role of EU or any third party is concerned, these are best resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan".

The EU Troika meeting attended by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Rudolf Bot and EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten comes ahead of the 5th India-EU Summit to be held in the Netherlands later this year. The Dutch side has suggested dates in November and December for the summit which would be worked out through diplomatic channels.

On the Indo-Pak parleys, Sinha said work has already been done in the past years on the dialogue and that it should not be difficult to reach a conclusion during the present round.

If some issues were left over during the discussions between the Indian delegation led by External Affairs Ministry's Joint Secretary Arun Singh and the Pakistani side headed by Director General South Asia Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretaries Shashank and Riaz Khokhar would meet on February 18 to resolve them, he said.

Asked about EU response to the televised admission by Pakistani scientist A Q Khan that he was involved in proliferation of nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran, the Irish Foreign Minister said this was an "international issue" in which "very many nationalities" were involved.

Cowen said steps have to be taken to ensure that Weapons of Mass Destruction do not reach the wrong hands.

On EU's demand that India should sign the non-proliferation treaty, he said it was important to pursue a dialogue on it.

Sinha also briefed EU leaders on the recent positive developments in Indo-Pak relations. Issues relating to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and India and EU's joint commitment to deliver effective multilateralism also figured in the parleys.

The Irish Foreign Minister said EU welcomed India's readiness to commence the process of the composite dialogue with Pakistan, including on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

"We wish them well in these negotiations and remain willing to assist in any way required," he said.

The two sides also discussed a number of regional issues including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar," Cowen said, adding "I recognise that India has a crucial role in helping to address these regional issues and to use its influence."

Sinha said he and the EU Troika exchanged views on the current trends in international terrorism and committed themselves to continue the fight against the menace.

"The establishment of India-EU Joint Working Group on terrorism is a natural culmination of our common commitment in the fight against terrorism. We are exploring taking this cooperation to a higher level through agency level interaction with Europol," he said.

The minister said India-EU ties were characterised by a mutual desire to impart strategic depth to contemporary ties in political, economic and technological fields for building a long-lasting multifaceted relationship.

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