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Aziz to discuss Kashmir during visit
India, Pak deal on Siachen likely

London/Islamabad, November 14
A day after India spoke of looking into President Pervez Musharraf’s new proposal to resolve the Kashmir issue if it is made formally, Pakistan today said it would be discussed by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz when he visits New Delhi next week.

“Our Prime Minister (Shaukat Aziz) is going to India where it will be discussed,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri told the BBC Hindi service while responding to External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh’s statement yesterday that the proposal will be looked at only if it comes formally.

“Our President has already started a debate and there is no doubt that when we go for the next meeting we will definitely take this proposal along,” he said.

Mr Kasuri said he had invited Mr Natwar Singh to Pakistan. We are meeting in Dhaka and our Foreign Secretaries are also due to meet. “So opportunities are enough but the need is for clear and good intentions,”

In Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesman Masood Khan welcomed the External Affairs Minister’s statement and said it reflected a “positive and constructive approach towards resolution of the Kashmir issue”.

Mr Kasuri also admitted that India and Pakistan were holding secret talks on Kashmir and they had been making progress.

“The good thing is that these talks are not open for journalists and photographers. We do not want people with vested interests to interrupt the process. There are too many vested interests on both sides.”

He said India’s National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit and Pakistan’s National Security Council’s Secretary Tariq Aziz are holding these talks.

Welcoming India’s decision to reduce troop deployment in Kashmir, he said: “Indian Prime Minister has himself said the infiltration across the LoC has come down and that’s why they are reducing the troops. This means he has the confidence that it is almost negligible.”

Meanwhile, according to reports, India and Pakistan are likely to reach an agreement on troops withdrawal from the Siachen glacier. A leading Pakistani daily reported that since the talks between the defence secretaries of Pakistan and India on the issue in August this year, both the sides have been using secret diplomatic channeles to reach an accord on troops withdrawal from the world’s highest battlefield. — PTI

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