Monday, July 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Parleys constructive, very cordial
Cross-border terrorism, LoC discussed; PM accepts invitation to Pak
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf being received by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the summit venue at Jaypee Palace Hotel in Agra on Sunday. 
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf being received by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at the summit venue at Jaypee Palace Hotel in Agra on Sunday. 
— PTI photo
A traffic police jawan outside Jaypee Palace Hotel, the venue of the summit, in Agra on Sunday.
A traffic police jawan outside Jaypee Palace Hotel, the venue of the summit, in Agra on Sunday. 
— PTI photo

Agra, July 15
Expressing their keenness to put the bitterness and mistrust of the past behind them, India and Pakistan are on the threshold of taking a careful and measured step forward in evolving a mechanism for dealing with the protracted issue and addressing the pressing concerns of the two neighbours.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf seem to have  developed an instant chemistry during their one-to-one interface lasting 90 minutes at the unprecedented summit here today. That set the stage for the delegations to get to the brasstacks in keeping with the directives handed down by the two leaders.

The sombre and dull atmosphere of the morning gave way to hope that Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf are serious in wanting to give peace and development a chance, despite the seemingly intractable problems for the betterment of the two peoples and meeting the challenges that lay ahead.

The two delegations went into a huddle for an hour at the ministerial and official level. At the ministerial level, Mr Vajpayee had the services of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, Union External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh and Union Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran.

Without diluting the hype on Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan insisting that Kashmir is the core issue, Mr Vajpayee is believed to have drawn his pointed attention to the desirability of stability prevailing on the Line of Control (LoC). A pre-requisite for that was that Pakistan must stop cross-border terrorism in order to build mutual confidence.

It is apparent General Musharraf sought a resolution of the Kashmir tangle through a mechanism that infused confidence all around. There is already a mechanism for this purpose envisaging discussion on eight subjects at the level of Foreign Secretaries and senior officials of the ministries concerned as part of the composite dialogue. The Jammu and Kashmir issue is being discussed at the level of Foreign Secretaries.

There is a possibility of the Kashmir issue being raised to the political level along with institutionalising regular contacts at the level of Head of State. A joint statement is expected to be released at the conclusion of the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit tomorrow.

Significantly, a brief statement read out by the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, which was seen and agreed to by the Pakistani side, said: “The Prime Minister of India and the President of Pakistan met today for one-and- a-half-hour of one-to-one and over an hour of delegation-level talks. The talks were held in a very cordial, frank and constructive manner. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and the President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, will have further meetings. Talks will also be held between the two delegations at the official and ministerial levels. The President of Pakistan has extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India to visit Pakistan. The invitation has been accepted”.

The spokesperson refused to entertain questions as she had to return to the delegation-level talks.

Besides raising a shrill tone on Kashmir being a core issue over the past one week, Pakistan has been stressing that there has to be flexibility on both sides for any meaningful forward movement. Sources in the Pakistani delegation told The Tribune that the discussions between the two leaders had been positive.

Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, spokesperson of the Pakistan President, refused comment on a volley of questions if Kashmir had been taken up by Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf. His comment was all too brief — that the talks have been positive because of the chemistry between the two leaders. There was an understanding and some positive movement on issuing a joint statement at the conclusion of the summit, he said.

He ruled out General Musharraf extending his stay in India.


Talks today too

Agra, July 15
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf have decided to hold unscheduled discussions tomorrow morning at the end of which the possibility of a joint statement is not ruled out. PTI

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