Saturday, September 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

No bilateral talks with Pak at SAARC meet: PM

New York, September 26
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today ruled out bilateral talks with Pakistan during his visit to Islamabad for the SAARC Summit in January next. “There is no proposal for talks (in Islamabad). There is no atmosphere for this. It would not be useful,” he told a press conference, wrapping up his week-long visit to New York for attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Vajpayee said because of the peace initiative, the whole world believed India was sincere on having peace and no one was believing Pakistan.

The Prime Minister said he had extended the hand of friendship to Pakistan thrice but Pakistani leaders said they went to pick up the peace process from Agra, giving an impression that Lahore is nothing for them.

“Why do they want to forget Lahore?” he asked.

The Prime Minister said during his meeting with Mr Bush, the US side had accepted that there had been an increase in the incidents of cross-border terrorism.

Asked to comment on the statement by Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Munir Akram that India was the “mother of terrorism”, Mr Vajpayee said India was “the mother of 100 crore children. The level of debate which is on is not good”.

Mr Vajpayee said India had been fighting against terrorism for long and New Delhi had said, “We will be fighting cross-border terrorism on our own and face it. But international fight against terrorism is also interlinked”.

On Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani’s comment that US President George W. Bush did not mention about terrorism in India in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, he said the US President did not mention it but the UN Secretary-General talked about it. “But not much importance should be attached to it,” he said.

Because of the double standard in fighting terrorism, there was some kind of disappointment in India, he said.

Replying to questions on the offer of hand of friendship to Pakistan by him in April this year, Mr Vajpayee said he did not consider it as a point of weakness on India’s part.

To a question about Pakistan’s India-bashing attitude, he said, “We are replying point by point but with dignity and this should be maintained”.

Asked about the division in the Hurriyat Conference in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan recognising one of the groups, the Prime Minister said, “We have nothing to do with the division in Hurriyat Conference”.

Mr Vajpayee today said Iraq remained a ‘‘test case’’ for the international community’s ability to work together to resolve a difficult issue of far-reaching impact.

He said there was widespread concern among the world leaders about the role and efficacy of the United Nations in the wake of the recent international developments, particularly in Iraq.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also shared the same view that there is no let-up in cross-border terrorism, he said.

The Prime Minister had meetings with Presidents of Russia, the US, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Zimbabwe and Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Portugal on the sidelines of the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly. — PTI , UNI

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