Wednesday, May 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

More peace steps on cards: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 27
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said that his government would take more confidence-building measures (CBMs) to carry forward its peace initiatives with Pakistan but made it clear that for a “meaningful dialogue” to begin Islamabad would have to dismantle its infrastructure of cross-border terrorism.

Talking to reporters at the IGI Airport here before departing for a week-long three-nation tour of Europe, the Prime Minister said Pakistan would have to end terrorism for a conducive atmosphere for talks.

“Some steps have been taken and some more will be taken,” Mr Vajpayee said in an obvious allusion to the CBMs announced by his government last night, including the decision to restart the Delhi-Lahore bus service.

“I hope an atmosphere will be created for the talks to begin...We want terrorism to end as soon as possible so that conditions for talks are improved,” he replied on being asked when a dialogue would be resumed. He stated that India wanted the dialogue to begin “as soon as possible”.

Earlier in a statement issued at the airport just before his departure, the Prime Minister said he hoped to discuss with the German Chancellor, Mr Gerhard Schroeder, and other representatives of the German leadership concrete measures to strengthen political and economic cooperation between the two countries and also collaboration on global issues like international terrorism and the WTO. He also hoped to interact with German parliamentarians and looked forward to meeting the small but dynamic Indian community in Germany.

Mr Vajpayee said in Russia he would attend the tercentenary celebrations of St Petersburg at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He described his scheduled meeting in Evian (France) as the result of a progressive initiative of the French President, Mr Jacques Chirac, to create a framework of dialogue between G-8 countries and selected representatives of the developing world and hoped the meeting would promote a meaningful interaction between these two groups of countries.

Mr Vajpayee said he had often talked about the need for a forum for a global dialogue on development. “I have often said we need a forum for a global dialogue on development which would enable developing and developed countries to discuss issues of concern in a cooperative rather than confrontationist manner and result in a reconciliation of differing perceptions and harmonisation of approaches,” Mr Vajpayee said. He added that he believed that President Chirac’s initiative “could mark a beginning in this direction”.

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