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World must accept us as N-powers: Kasuri

By Anil K Joseph in Qingdao, east China
June 22, 2004 13:52 IST
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The international community must accept India and Pakistan as nuclear powers, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said in Qingdao, east China, on Tuesday.

"On the nuclear issue, there is a great degree of understanding between our two countries. Pakistan and India are mature and responsible nuclear powers," Kasuri, who is attending the Asian Cooperation Dialogue meeting in the port city, said.

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Text of the joint statement

External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and his counterparts in 22 countries are attending the meeting.

"Though unfortunately we had wars between our countries, we have not violated human rights, we have not violated Geneva conventions regarding prisoners, we have not attacked each other's dams or civilian targets," he said.

"I don't think anybody is in a position to say or adopt a holier than thou attitude towards Pakistan and India," Kasuri said.

"I think that we are responsible countries and we are nuclear powers and some efforts have to be found to accept this reality," Kasuri said, days after officials from both countries met in New Delhi and adopted a series of Nuclear Confidence Building Measures.

His comments came close on the heels of the two countries taking a slew of measures to avoid misunderstanding and to continue moratorium on conducting further nuclear tests.

On his talks with Singh on Monday at a 'working lunch' hosted by his Indian counterpart, Kasuri said, "It was very positive and warm meeting. It was a very tasty lunch that he offered me. It was Chinese but had a lot of mirch masala, suited to our pallets."

When the Congress-led government assumed power in New Delhi, a number of sceptics in Pakistan thought that the peace process would be abandoned, he said.

"There was a feeling in Pakistan that may be the new government [in India] may not own that process," he said.

"I was greatly encouraged by the meeting with Natwar Singh. Earlier he told me on the telephone that he was wedded to the peace process with Pakistan and India and that the Congress-led government will carry the process even further," he said.

Singh reiterated his statement during the meeting, Kasuri said.

"I have no reason to disbelieve what he said today. That is the right spirit and I am encouraged by this approach."

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Anil K Joseph in Qingdao, east China
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