July 17, 2001
1125 IST


 Search the Internet
 Indo-Pak Summit

Send this page to a friend

Print this page

India to implement unilateral CBMs

India said on Tuesday that the confidence-building measures announced before the visit of President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan would be implemented fully.

"When put in place these would make an important contribution" to the relationship between the two countries, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told a press conference in Agra.

"We are disappointed that the two sides could not reach a consensus on the agreed text" of the joint statement despite General Musharraf calling on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for an hour before his departure to Islamabad.

The talks between India and Pakistan could not be held hostage by a single issue and as the two countries move on with their future relations, India would endeavour to discuss all issues, including Jammu & Kashmir, he said.

Asked about the likelihood of Prime Minister Vajpayee visiting Pakistan, Singh said, "There is an invitation extended to the prime minister and it has been accepted. The invitation remains in place."

So far as the mood at the departure of President Musharraf was concerned, he said, "It was marked by disappointment." But he said that keeping in mind the totality of the relationship between India and Pakistan, he was not disheartened.

Singh denied that the Indian government had stopped Gen Musharraf from holding a press conference in Agra on Monday night and said it was because of security considerations that an impromptu briefing could not be arranged.

"So far as denying an opportunity to meet the press was considered, the question simply does not arise... It needed 90 minutes' notice for security arrangements," he said.

Asked who was responsible for the joint statement being not issued, Singh said he was not going to engage in a game of "who backed out... We made every effort to reach a consensus."

But he said efforts for peace would continue and the Agra summit was part of the continuous effort on India's part.

Refuting reports that the ministers in the Indian delegation for the Agra summit were working at cross purposes, Singh said, "This is a canard."

"To say that we are working at cross purposes is to belittle the efforts made collectively by my distinguished colleagues in such important talks," he said.

Asked why Prime Minister Vajpayee's remarks at the summit were held back on July 15, he said, "India does not believe that discussions or negotiations between two heads of government can be conducted through the public or the press. We abided by that."

But, he said, "When we found that Pakistan was engaging with the media, we felt that the essentials should be made known to all."

Singh said Pakistan continued to facilitate the infiltration of terrorists into Jammu & Kashmir despite the relative calm on the Line of Control.

He said Pakistan should strive to stop that and the LoC should continue to be quiet.

Singh said, "I did say that there is relative peace on the LoC. I did not say there is total peace on it. Incidents keep happening, which is regrettable. We will deal with them."

He said the action of the Pakistani media in heckling the external affairs ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao late on Monday night was "regrettable and condemnable. I do not want to advise the media as to how to behave."

Asked how soon the prime minister would go to Pakistan, Singh said the dates and convenience of visit is now a matter of diplomatic arrangement which will be dealt with.

"Cross-border terrorism is an important issue. Pakistan believes that unless the Kashmir issue is solved, nothing would move forward. However, India believes that it should be composite dialogue which should discuss all other issues including Jammu & Kashmir," he said.

Asked about a spate of media interviews given by Gen Musharraf, Singh said, "That is his choice and his determination. We do not wish to comment on it.

"It is our belief that when it was to discuss bilateral or international issues, whether it is between heads of state or even at official-level talks, we cannot involve media in the discussions," he said.

Singh said the collapse of the Agra round of talks would not affect the India-Pakistan relationship. "India remains committed to work out a lasting peace with its neighbour," he said, while refusing to comment on the remarks of President Musharraf during his meeting with senior Indian editors on Monday morning.

The external affairs minister said India has a conceptual difference with Pakistan whose stand is that Kashmir needs to be recognised as the core issue. "We recognise it as an issue that needs to be addressed. We do not recognise it as the only issue or core issue."

Asked whether Prime Minister Vajpayee would meet General Musharraf on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York later this year, Singh said that would be determined later.

Singh also denied that the talks had failed or that India was ill-prepared for the summit. "I do not characterise it as a failure, but yet another step in our march towards peace and amity," he remarked.

Asked if he could do "business" with Musharraf, he said, "I have just done business with him. I have to deal with the world as it is and not the world as it ought to be."

The Government of India, external affairs ministry, and all other ministries were not lacking in preparations for General Musharraf's visit, he said.

"We were fully prepared, all delegates were properly briefed, all documents prepared weeks in advance," he said.

The minister said that when India suggested that official-level talks should be held prior to the summit to decide an agenda, Pakistan did not agree.

To a question on the future of India-Pakistan ties, he said, "I would not treat this as the end of an exercise. Our commitment to dialogue and peace continues. I have no doubt that on some auspicious day we will reach its destination."

Failure of the Indo-Pak talks would not have any effect on the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation resuming its work, he said. "The foreign secretary was to attend secretary-level talks when tragic events invaded Nepal. Fresh dates for the purpose will be fixed subject to the convenience of Nepal."

Indo-Pak Summit 2001: The Complete Coverage

Back to top

Tell us what you think of this report