M A I N   N E W S

Natwar strikes a chord with Kasuri
Anil K. Joseph

Qingdao (East China), June 21
Striking a positive note in the first high-level political contact, External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri today discussed Jammu and Kashmir and all other aspects of bilateral ties during talks described as “warm and productive”.

Mr Natwar Singh had a 100-minute lunch meeting with Mr Kasuri in which officials from both sides were also present followed by a 25-minute one-to-one “intimate” parleys in the plush Sheraton Qingdao Hotel, sources said.

The two ministers, who are here to attend the 22-member Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), “reviewed the progress in all aspects of bilateral relations, including Jammu and Kashmir, and implementation of the framework for the dialogue process worked out in February by the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries,” sources in the delegation said.

Mr Natwar Singh later told reporters that “the chemistry was pretty good” while Mr Kasuri said “we discussed all issues that are necessary for us to discuss. We had a very positive frame of mind towards all issues”.

They agreed to remain in regular touch and provide continuous political guidance to the ongoing process. They also hoped to meet each other on several occasions over the next two months.

During the “warm and productive” meeting, the two ministers reviewed the expert-level dialogue on nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) held in New Delhi yesterday.

“They welcomed the agreement worked out at the meeting to establish and upgrade communications, and work for specific CBMs, including through an agreement on advance notification of missile tests,” the sources said.

The two ministers, who had several telephonic conversations since the new government came to power in New Delhi, positively assessed the progress in the discussions held, including at the meetings between Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers, the Narcotics Control authorities of the two countries.

The two Foreign Ministers said they looked forward to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries scheduled for June 27-28, and to concrete outcomes from that meeting so as to take forward the present process. Earlier, Mr Kasuri told reporters that he had a “healthy and tasty” lunch, which was hosted by Mr Natwar Singh.

The two ministers warmly embraced each other and exchanged pleasantries before the large group of international and local media were ushered out of the ornate dining room.

“We have to be actors too,” Mr Kasuri joked when photographers urged the two ministers to embrace each other.

“I hope that the good progress made during the last government’s tenure in India will be continued. I am encouraged by the statements of the new Indian leadership, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Mr Natwar Singh’s statements,” Mr Kasuri said earlier.

“He (Natwar Singh) personally told me that under the new government, it looks forward to carry the process of peace with Pakistan even further and at a faster pace. So I am looking forward with great expectation,” the Pakistani Minister said.

“I have always been one of those people in Pakistan who strongly believe that the normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India in the interests of the people of South Asia. I have worked for it even before I became Foreign Minister and since becoming Foreign Minister I took up the big challenge,” he said.

Apart from meeting Mr Kasuri, Mr Natwar Singh had important bilateral meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, who is also the host of the ACD Foreign Ministers’ meeting here in the booming coastal east Chinese city.

This was also the first meeting between Mr Natwar Singh and Li. — PTI


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |