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Positive signals, says Pak envoy

July 15, 2004 13:51 IST

Observing that "signals" from India on carrying forward the dialogue process are "very positive", Pakistan today said there was "complete commitment" on its part to the process and hoped this would lead to resolution of intractable problems like Kashmir.

"Both sides are committed to the dialogue process. You have seen statements of Pakistan leadership and statements from indian leadershhip here. We are quite hopeful that things will move forward because there is the right kind of atmosphere," Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan said in an interview to PTI.

His remarks come ahead of the meeting next week in Islamabad between External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.

Describing Kashmir as the "most difficult" issue between the two countries, he said there was a "good" discussion at the recent Foreign Secretary-level meeting.

"A beginning has been made in the process to resolve that issue," he said. The two sides are examining proposals which have been put on the table and would be meeting again to look at them to take the process forward.

Among the proposals on Jammu and Kashmir that have been made by India is working out an agreement on peace and tranquility on the Line of Control (LoC).New Delhi has been strongly advocating 'No first use'of nuclear weapons while Pakistan has been pressing for 'No war pact', 'no use of force' and cessation of hostilities.

Pakistan has also been in favour of conventional weapons stability keeping in view India's clear superiorty in this arena.

Asked about the possibility of Pakistan Prime Minister visiting India soon, Khan said "there is a general tradition of Chairman of SAARC visiting all neighbouring countries and normally this visit takes place towards the end of the Chairmanship" which could be October or November this year.

Pakistan was awaiting response to the invitations extended by the Pakistani leadership to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to visit that country, he said.

The Islamabad meeting between Singh and Kasuri will be their third one in two months. They had met in the Chinese City of Qingdao in June and earlier this month in Jakarta on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting.

The two leaders are expected to review the progress made so far. Detailed and substantive discussions are expected to take place in the last week of August when Kasuri will come to Delhi on a bilateral visit days after the foreign secretaries meet.

Khan agreed that the two sides have to be prepared for a "long haul" on Kashmir. "In one meeting everything cannot be resolved. But certainly so long as there is that intention and commitment to carry the process forward, there is no reason why even the most intractable problems cannot be resolved.

"Yes, there is complete commitment in this regard from our side. Our delegation came here with a positive attitude and we found a similar positive attitude from the Indian side.The signals that we are receiving from here are very positive," Khan said.

About President Pervez Musharraf's remarks of discarding unacceptable solutions on Kashmir and finding a lasting one,he said the Pakistani leader has given the indication on what course of action can lead the two countries towards a solution which will be acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir.

"To reach that goal, what we require is a sustained,continuous dialogue", he stressed. Only a solution acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir "will hold. Otherwise, it is not possible to have a solution."

He said a host of issues would be taken up by the member countries during the SAARC meeting. These include poverty alleviation and reviewing progress on SAFTA which will come into effect on January one, 2006. Issues relating to the sensitive list and rules of origin were also being discussed.

"Pakistan is certainly participating in these discussions in a very positive manner. The SAARC countries have to discuss modalities for compensation to least developed countries for loss of revenue due to operation of SAFTA. Bangladesh has been apprehending that its textile sector could be affected. Removal of trade barriers is another subject that needs to be agreed upon," he said.


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