Thursday, May 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Atal rejects fresh decision on Kashmir
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

Berlin, May 28
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today rejected suggestions for taking a fresh decision on Jammu and Kashmir as the people of the troubled state have rejected the talk of independence by voting overwhelmingly in last year’s Assembly elections and believed German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would persuade Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to stop cross-border terrorism along with reaffirming India’s readiness to talk on all issues, including Kashmir.

Mr Schroeder said considering the statesmanship shown by Mr Vajpayee, he expected Gen Musharraf to provide “an appropriate response” that leads to reduction of tension in the region.

“There is no need for a fresh decision on the (Kashmir) issue,” Mr Vajpayee categorically told a German mediaperson. Emphasising that India was a democratic country, Mr Vajpayee said “We have regular elections and the people of Jammu and Kashmir have taken part overwhelmingly despite Pakistan’s machinations to disrupt the democratic process and intimidate the electorate. Some candidates were even killed”.

He stressed that despite Islamabad’s efforts to whip up a fear psychosis in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir last year, people voted in large numbers.

“The elections have made it clear what the people of J and K want. There is no need for a fresh decision,” the Prime Minister declared.

Mr Vajpayee described as mischievous the question as to what India expected from Germany when Gen Musharraf visits this country in the later half of next month.

Nevertheless, he said at a joint press conference after the summit with Mr Schroeder that Germany was a member of the United Nations and in the forefront of fighting international terrorism.

Considering Germany’s wisdom and sagacity, Mr Vajpayee said if Gen Musharraf came to Germany as he is free to visit any country, then Mr Schroeder should “talk to him to stop cross-border terrorism and that India is ready to talk on all issues including Kashmir.”

With Mr Vajpayee and Mr Schroeder agreeing that the two countries had similar views on important bilateral, international and regional issues, the host Chancellor side-stepped the question about asking Gen Musharraf to stop cross-border terrorism by saying: “Never talk about a guest before your have spoken to him.”

At the same time Mr Schroeder gave ample indications about Germany’s views on the menace of international and cross-border terrorism. He expressed his admiration for Mr Vajpayee for the latter’s repeated efforts to find a solution to cross-border terrorism and the protracted Kashmir issue.

Mr Schroeder said he expected “an appropriate response from Pakistan in the same constructive spirit (as displayed by India).” He maintained that Germany would not be found wanting in living up to its obligation and expectation of fighting international terrorism.

The summit and the range of discussions were substantive encompassing Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told mediapersons here this afternoon. Germany’s opposition to international as well as cross-border terrorism came out loud and clear.

Berlin unequivocally rejected terrorism in all its forms. The German leadership appreciated India’s draft on terrorism pending in the United Nations.

Both countries shared their assessment on the situation in Iraq and agreed that the U N Security Council resolution was a step forward. On India’s response to sending troops to Iraq for peace-keeping, Mr Sinha said India’s stand on this was unambiguous till necessary clarifications were sought from the UN on Resolution 1483.

Till that time New Delhi will be rendering the necessary humanitarian and reconstruction help. “On terrorism, the meeting of minds is as never before.”

India and Germany stressed that the role of the UN Special representative in Iraq was important. Simultaneously, Iraq’s terroritial integrity and secular character must be maintained in a democratic framework. Both sides expressed concern about theocratic and fundamental forces rearing their heads which should be resolved through negotiations.

The two countries also hoped that the Middle East peace process would lead to peace, the formation of a Palestinian State within the set deadline. The Middle East peace process would help in providing the necessary stability to the whole region.

On Afghanistan, India and Germany expressed serious concern about the renewed activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Germany is playing a lead role before handing over charge to Canada in the summer. If Germany has to stay in Afghanistan, it is only possible through a resolution of the United Nations.



PM to retire if talks fail

Berlin, May 28
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has said he will “retire” if his third and last peace initiative with Pakistan fails.

Asked by the interviewer of widely-circulated German daily Der Spiegel as to what would happen if his stated last peace initiative failed, he shot back: “Then I have to accept my defeat. Then I retire.”

“It is never intelligent to get involved in predictions in these issues,” Mr Vajpayee said when reminded that he was 78 and asked if he would contest Parliamentary elections due next year. PTI


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