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June 2, 1999
Talks 'meaningful' only if crisis ends
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has said that he saw the proposed talks with his Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz as an ''opportunity to convey the sense of outrage at the manner in which Pakistan had blatantly violated international norms and resorted to what could only be described as an armed intrusion amounting to aggression''.
He said India had made it clear that there could be no meaningful talks with Pakistan without Islamabad first ending its aggression in Kargil.
In an interview to Star TV, he said, ''I am going to tell Mr Aziz in unequivocal terms that the right of self-defence being inherent, and since all the fighting is taking place on our side of the Line of Control, no solution is possible until Pakistan first agrees to restore the status quo ante control.''
Asked if the talks would serve any purpose while Pakistan showed no sign of moving back from the Indian side of the LoC, Singh said, ''That is the question for Pakistan to answer. They wanted to talk. The prime minister of Pakistan has made this offer. Its now up to them to decide what they want.''
He denied that the intrusion in Kargil had exposed the Lahore Declaration and the government's foreign policy towards Pakistan. ''The Lahore Declaration was a statement of intent done in good faith. You cannot permit the defeat of a larger strategic objective of peace and amity simply because of a tactical aberration. This is an aberration that has to be defeated, the substance is still in place.''
Asked if Aziz's visit would take place next week, he said the dates were being worked out through diplomatic channels.
He accepted that the Pakistani operation had been well-planned and executed over a period of time.
Asked specifically whether Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief was involved in the operation, he said, ''The operation was planned and executed by the Pakistani army. As to what goes on internally in Pakistan, that is a question for the Pakistani government to answer.''
Asked whether he anticipated a long-haul militarily and diplomatically, he said, ''This again depends on Pakistan. It is for Pakistan to realise, and realise quickly enough, that this a misadventure that has failed, and restoring the status quo ante along the Line of Control is the only way forward.''
He said that a major gain for India was that Pakistan now stood internationally exposed. ''Pakistan's attempt to internationalise Kashmir has failed miserably. Not one country has backed Pakistan. They have all held that the matter must be resolved bilaterally. Even China, in these circumstances, has repeated its invitation to me to visit Beijing and I do intend to go ahead with my visit to that country in the middle of June.''
He also described reports of an attack on school children across the border in Pakistan as part of a disinformation campaign. ''In my long career in the military, one rule was clear -- the Indian Army only targets military targets.''
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