M A I N   N E W S

India, Pak vow to fight terror
Ajay Kaul and V Mohan Narayan

Islamabad, July 23
Pushing the peace process forward, India and Pakistan today spoke of the need for tackling terrorism with “renewed vigour” and continuing their dialogue in an atmosphere free of violence, in the first high-level political contact between the UPA government and President Pervez Musharraf.

During a 90-minute meeting with Musharraf at his official Army House residence in Rawalpindi, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh shared India’s concerns over cross-border terrorism as the two sides discussed all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

“India and Pakistan are committed to discuss and settle all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of both sides,” Singh later told reporters at the airport before leaving for New Delhi after his five-day visit.

During his stay here, Singh attended SAARC ministerial meeting and also held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain, Premier-designate Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.

Singh said during his meeting with Musharraf, he conveyed to him India’s intention to carry on “a sustained and steady dialogue with Pakistan. We reviewed all significant aspects of our relations.”

“Both sides reiterated the importance of continuing the dialogue process in an atmosphere free of violence and tackling the scourge of terrorism with renewed vigour,” he said.

“No aspect of our relations, including Jammu and Kashmir, was left out in our warm, frank and realistic discussions,” Singh said.

“I leave Pakistan with renewed determination to work with Pakistan bilaterally to normalise our relations and resolve our differences while building on our many commonalities,” he said.

“They are aware of our concerns and they said we should be aware of their concerns,” the External Affairs Minister said, adding the two sides feel at the highest level that the dialogue process should go on and the leaders of the two countries should “meet often”.

Foreign Secretaries and High Commissioners of both countries were present at the meeting.

Singh said “both sides are encouraged by the progress that has been made in several other fields in the spirit of friendship and realism.”

He said during his meetings with Pakistani leaders, the two sides “shared perceptions on several issues” and expressed satisfaction at the wide range of contacts taking place at government and non-government level” between the two countries.

Observing that his meetings with Pakistani leaders provided an opportunity to review bilateral relations, Singh said he found their attitude “constructive and positive”.

“We discussed progress so far in the process of composite dialogue that began in February.... The next three weeks will see intensive interaction between our countries, with six meetings on different subjects in the composite dialogue process,” he said.

Thereafter, Singh said, Kasuri and he would meet in New Delhi on September 5 and 6. — PTI


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