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Wednesday, September 2, 1998
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Vasundhara Raje, Sartaj Aziz meet

DURBAN, Sept 1 (PTI) — India and Pakistan tonight directed their officials to continue talks on modalities for the revival of the stalled bilateral dialogue even though Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said parleys held so far here had failed to make any headway.

The decision to issue directives was taken during the 45-minute-long talk between Minister of State for External Affairs Vasundhara Raje and Mr Aziz on the sidelines of the NAM Summit.

An Indian spokesperson told newspersons that in pursuance with the decision, officials of the two countries would work on the issue tomorrow and the day after.

Before his meeting with Ms Raje, Mr Aziz said: "There have been no successful parleys. Differences exist on which working group should take up what issue".

Referring to the discussions between Foreign Secretaries K. Raghunath and Shamshad Ahmed, the Pakistan Foreign Minister said: "We have doubts that when there are so many hitches at the initial stages, how the dialogue will proceed fruitfully".

During the meeting, Ms Raje voiced India’s desire that discussions with Pakistan should encompass cooperation and confidence building and should address issues even on which the two sides did not see eye to eye.

She further said such a relationship should focus on issues that would figure in the next millennium.

The spokesperson said possibilities were being explored for a meeting between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Mr Aziz.

Ms Raje was assisted by Mr Vivek Katju, Joint Secretary (India, Pakistan and Afghanistan) in the External Affairs Ministry, while Mr Aziz was assisted by Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed.

The talks were held in a "very, very cordial" atmosphere, the spokes- person said.

He said the meeting was a traditional one on the sidelines of NAM in which bilateral and NAM-related issues were discussed.

A feeling was expressed that both countries had similar position on economic issues. In this respect, there was a view that further cooperation could be explored.According to a report from Islamabad, Indian and Pakistani foreign secretaries, who held "intensive discussions" in Durban to explore the possibility of the resumption of bilateral talks, will have further talks in New York later this month where the premiers of the two countries are likely to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

India's demand backed
Nonaligned countries today strongly backed India's demand for a global and collective fight against terrorism and were all set to condemn the USA for its missile strikes on Sudan.

India's proposal for collective action against terrorism has been reflected in amendments to the draft declaration to the two-day NAM summit commencing tomorrow.

NAM countries have endorsed Delhi's stand that the US strikes should not be seen in isolation, Indian officials said.

Several members of the 113-member grouping felt that Washington's action against suspected militant camps in Afghanistan could not be equated with the strikes on Sudan.

Global nuclear disarmament and relevance of NAM in the era of globalisation and post-cold war scenario are expected to dominate the NAM agenda.

Diplomatic circles are attaching significance to South Africa appreciating India's security concerns that prompted the Pokhran nuclear tests.

Pretoria's position was conveyed to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee by South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki on the eve of the summit.

Pak suffers setback
Pakistan today received a major diplomatic setback when nonaligned countries refused to toe its line on having a comprehensive resolution on the US missile attack on Sudan and Afghanistan with a majority of nations feeling that the Taliban regime was sponsoring terrorism all over the world.

When the issue came up for discussions at the ministerial and official-level meetings of NAM, an overwhelming majority of member-countries felt that Washington’s attack on militant camps in Afghanistan could not be equated with its strikes on Sudan.

While NAM was yet to formulate its response to attacks on militant camps on Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden, it was already agreed to condemn the US action on a pharmaceutical company in Khartoum.

Pakistani representatives worked round-the-clock during the past few days to convince and persuade the NAM members to accept its proposal for a common resolution on Afghanistan and Sudan, but there were not many takers for their theory. Pakistan was left with no option but to give up its efforts.

Interestingly, senior officials of the US Administration who arrived here to seek observer status for their country were overtly and covertly lobbying for toning down the NAM resolution on its attacks.

NAM, in its resolution on the US attack on Sudan, felt that the action was a "serious violation of the principles of international law and the UN Charter and contrary to the principles of peaceful settlement of disputes."

Sudan’s draft resolution condemning US attacks has been broadly endorsed by the NAM preparatory meetings even though some of the African countries expressed reservation on the ground that they had been victims of violence exported by Khartoum.

On the political resolution in the draft declaration, NAM has not made any change from the Cartagena declaration on its position that there should be no expansion of the UN Security Council without the inclusion of member-states.

The declaration incorporates amendments on the Afghan issue maintaining that the rule by religious leaders (Ulema) should be reversed and that the latest Security Council resolution calling for a political settlement in Afghanistan should be honoured.

A proposal by Egypt for an international conference under the UN auspices for initiating a united response to combat terrorism had received wide support from NAM members, officials said.

The economic resolution in the draft declaration mainly focussed on the need for restoring balance in the international economic system in the wake of globalisation.

It recommended that NAM should gear up for an institutional forum to interact with the developed countries for re-ordering priorities in the world economy.

Setting the tone for the summit, the South African Deputy President said economic globalisation was a central concern to less developed countries.

"The single most important thing at the summit would be to agree .... How we approach the question of the restructuring of the world economy so that it has an impact on the needs of the developing countries," he told reporters.

Mr Mkebi said NAM needed to use its strength at the largest grouping in the United Nations to give itself greater bargaining power with the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialised nations and the World Trade Organisation.

While President Nelson Mandela and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan were also expected to arrive here later, Cuban President Fidel Castro is among the NAM leaders already present in Durban.back

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