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First, terrorism has to stop: Natwar Singh

September 10, 2004 15:02 IST

Observing that the Composite Dialogue process was being pursued step-by-step, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh today made it clear that until cross-border terrorism was stopped, talks on the Kashmir issue cannot move forward.

The minister also brushed aside the importance being given to separatist Kashmiri leaders by the Pakistani leadership, emphasising that a duly elected government is in place in Jammu and Kashmir after elections in which there was a voter turnout of 44 per cent.

"Until cross-border terrorism is stopped, talks on Kashmir issue cannot move forward," he told Star News.

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Natwar doesn't think much of Hurriyat

Asked about Pakistani leaders making it a point to meet Hurriyat leaders during visits as was done by Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri when he was here, Singh said, "I don't give much importance to the Hurriyat. Reality is known to all. First they (various Hurriyat factions) have to get together."

Singh said the government has not stopped Pakistani leaders from meeting anyone they chose to.

On the proposed meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly session later this month, Singh said, "This is the first time they are meeting. It is more of getting to know each other."

He said this will be followed by a meeting of foreign secretaries in December when they will review progress in the Composite Dialogue process.

The two foreign secretaries are expected to chalk out the schedule for talks for the second round on eight subjects of the composite dialogue covering J&K and peace and security, including confidence-building measures.

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