Sunday, December 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India’s no to Pak offer for talks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 29
India today rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s overtures suggesting a meeting between him and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in Kathmandu next week on the margins of the SAARC summit.

India’s tough talk came even as Islamabad today formally requested passage over Indian skies to President Pervez Musharraf to enable him to attend the SAARC summit next week in Kathmandu. India has already stated that it would grant overflight facility to President Musharraf in case a formal request were to be made to this effect.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs made known the government stand when reporters asked her to comment on General Musharraf’s remarks yesterday that “I don’t mind meeting him (Mr Vajpayee). But as I said once before, you can’t clap with one hand.”

However, no decision has so far been taken regarding the prospects of a meeting between External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh with his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Abdul Sattar in Kathmandu.

Islamabad’s request follows India’s decision to stop overflight facilities to Pakistani aircraft from January 1, 2002, as part of its diplomatic offensive launched against Pakistan for not taking meaningful action against terrorist outfits responsible for the December 13 attack on Parliament.

Meanwhile, India has virtually ignored US President George W. Bush’s suggestion asking it to take note of the arrest of terrorists by Pakistan, saying that it will make an “independent assessment” of such claims.

“We have seen media reports in Pakistan and the western Press. There is no official statement from the Pakistan Government to the effect that they have made these arrests. We have to make our independent assessment,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said. “We are in the process of getting the information,” she said.

US President George W. Bush had yesterday stated in Texas that he was pleased to note that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had announced these arrests. “I hope India takes note of that, that the President is responding forcefully and actively to bring those who would harm others to justice.”

US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke last evening to External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh who apprised him of Pakistan’s inaction against terrorist organisations and New Delhi’s steps to deal with the situation.

New Delhi has conveyed to Washington that the measures taken by it in the wake of the December 13 terror strike on Parliament, were “minimal”. It has expressed the hope that the Pakistan Government would understand the gravity of the situation and take urgent measures to curb the activities of terrorist groups.

India has denied that it had sent a list of 30 terrorists to Pakistan, including Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Azhar Masood, seeking their extradition.

Abdul Sattar
Abdul Sattar 

ISLAMABAD: Meanwhile, Pakistan today said it would not request a meeting between its President, Pervez Musharraf, and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee but was willing to hold talks to calm border tensions.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said, “We have made no specific request. If there is a desire on the part of the Indian Prime Minister, then surely a meeting will be arranged,’’ he said.

“Pakistan is ready to have talks anytime and anywhere depending on the mutual decision of the two leaders,” Mr Abdul Sattar said. Agencies

PIA flight allowed

New Delhi, December 29
In order to meet the sudden rush of passengers as a result of India banning Pakistani flights, the government has given special permission to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to operate a special flight from Delhi to Lahore and Karachi on January 1. The flight will take off from IGI Airport. PTI

Pak bans channels

Islamabad, December 29
Pakistan today banned broadcasts of Indian satellite television channels like Star TV in an apparent retaliation to a similar ban on PTV channel in some parts of India. The announcement was made by the chief of the Pakistan Telecom Authority, Major Gen Shabzada Alam Malik at Lahore. PTI



Bush speaks to Atal, Pervez

Islamabad, December 29
US President George W. Bush held a 20-minute telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf this evening to discuss the situation leading to the build-up of troops by India and Pakistan at their borders. A report from New Delhi said Mr Bush and French President Jacques Chirac tonight spoke to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and discussed the latest situation in the wake of mutual diplomatic sanctions slapped by New Delhi and Islamabad. Mr Bush, who spoke over telephone discussed various aspects of the current situation. PTI


USA may send envoy

New Delhi, December 29
The USA is considering dispatching an envoy to South Asia to try to cool tension between India and Pakistan, but not before mid-January, an American newspaper reported today quoting an unnamed senior US State Department official.

The New York Times quoted the official as saying that two earlier occasions for conciliation — a South Asian summit meeting in Nepal from January 4 to 6 and a visit to India by British Prime Minister Tony Blair a bit later — would probably be given a chance to work first. UNIBack

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