Saturday, June 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pervez willing to meet Vajpayee
Says Pak doesn’t trust India

New Delhi, June 13
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said he would be “more than willing” to meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and lead the peace talks.

“Prime Minister Jamali may be a better person for him (Vajpayee) to meet. But if Vajpayee is willing to meet me, I would be more than willing to meet him and lead the talks,” President Musharraf said in an interview to Prannoy Roy of NDTV.

He said as after the Agra talks, there had been a campaign to malign his government’s image, he thought the Prime Minister (Jamali) might be a better person.

Refusing to accept that the Kargil war had been against Pakistan’s self-interest and was a mistake, he said “Kargil was a decision taken by the Mujahideen, and we got involved because of the action taken by the Indian troops.”

Stating that before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue, he said there was no change in Pakistan’s position that Kashmir was the core issue.

“We can talk of trade and economy and other issues, but no talks will succeed unless the core issue is addressed,” he said.

General Musharraf, however, said he did not trust the Indian Government. “We don’t trust you when you say that we should focus on trade. We see it as an attempt to sideline the main issue of Kashmir,” he said.

The President also refused to accept that last year’s election in Jammu and Kashmir had been free and fair. Despite a 44 per cent turnout, he said: “I am very clear on one thing. The people of Kashmir do not want to be part of India.”

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