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Talks won't be postponed: Shashank

January 13, 2004 19:12 IST

Talks with Pakistan will not be postponed on account of the Lok Sabha elections, according to Foreign Secretary Shashank.

It will be a sustained process, he told Karan Thapar on SAB TV's 'Court Martial' programme.

"Elections are normal process and for a democracy like India, it is not seen as something very special," he said.

On whether talks will continue during the poll campaign, Shashank said, "This is a process which has to continue and has to be sustained."

About Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks that the thaw in Indo-Pak ties was due to US engagement, the foreign secretary said, "No, essentially it is a bilateral process and other countries had helped to some extent by nudging Pakistan to forego terrorism and they agreed that cross-border infiltration must come to a standstill."

Pakistan, Shashank said, agreed that it "would not not support any [terrorist] action from their side including from all territories under their control. So, therefore, we have to go on the basis of the agreement that we have reached and the statement" that was issued in Islamabad on January 6 after talks between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf.

Asked if there was back-channel diplomacy and secret talks between National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra and his Pakistan counterpart Tariq Aziz in London and at other places, Shashank said, "I am neither confirming nor denying the actual contacts or venues where meeting took place.

"What I am saying is that the process has been on for sometime and the leaders have been directly involved in seeing that what kind of vision they can give to the people of South Asia," he said, adding it was a "win-win" situation. "We are not looking for winners and losers."

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