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Natwar, Kasuri meeting 'productive'

Anil K Joseph in Qingdao (East China) | June 21, 2004 08:50 IST
Last Updated: June 22, 2004 00:49 IST

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh held talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Qingdao, east China, on Monday at a 'working lunch' on the sidelines of the 22-member Asian Cooperation Dialogue meeting.

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Striking a positive note in the first high-level political contact, the duo described the talks as 'warm and productive'.

Officials from both sides were present at the 100-minute meeting. It was followed by a 25-minute one-to-one meeting in the plush Shangri-la Hotel, sources in the Indian delegation said.

The two ministers, who are in China to attend the  22-member Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), 'reviewed the progress in all aspects of bilateral relations, including Jammu and Kashmir, and implementation of the framework for the dialogue process worked out in February by the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries'.

Singh later told reporters 'the chemistry was pretty good' while Kasuri said, "We discussed all the issues that are necessary for us to discuss. We had a very positive frame of mind towards all issues."

They agreed to remain in regular touch and provide continuous political guidance to the ongoing process. They also hoped to meet each other whenever their schedules permitted them to over the next two months.

Singh emphasised the need for encouraging both the foreign secretaries to move forward with the peace process. Under the roadmap agreed by the two countries, the Foreign Secretaries would meet in New Delhi on June 27-28 followed by a meeting between the foreign ministers in August.

"We thought that a successful meeting (of the foreign secretaries) would help the two foreign ministers to proceed tackling the issues with greater depth and more successfully," he said.

It was the first high-level political contact between the two countries since the Manmohan Singh government assumed power in Delhi.

The meeting comes close on the heels of the crucial expert-level talks between the two sides on Nuclear Confidence Building Measures and a week before the foreign secretary-level parleys between the two countries in New Delhi.

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