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We will have to 'talk about talks': Sinha

By H S Rao in London
May 20, 2003 00:56 IST
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India and Pakistan will have to 'talk about talks' first, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said on Monday night.

Asserting that past agreements cannot be ignored, Sinha dismissed Islamabad's claim that it has no control over the activities of militant groups.

"Pakistan has shown plenty of willingness and ability to capture and hand over almost 500 Afghan, Arab and other Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists to the US. We would expect similar action from the Pakistani government against terrorists targeting India as well." Sinha said in an interview to the BBC World. "It is difficult to accept the Pakistani assertions that the 70 to 80 per cent of terrorists came from outside the region and they are not in a position to control them."

"If Pakistan was certain that terrorists were operating without the involvement of its agencies, then Pakistan and India could work together to put an end to this problem," Sinha, who arrived in London on Sunday evening to attend the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meeting, said.

"I don't think it is open to any set of countries to completely ignore agreements reached in the past and say we will begin with a new slate," Sinha said.

He was asked why should things be different now since Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who was seen by India as making things impossible to proceed, is still in charge in that country.

"We will have to keep on trying," he said. "We will have to find out what exactly and in what manner and what issues we should discuss and in what priority."

The CMAG meeting will be held on Tuesday.

Sinha said acts of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir must be condemned in the same unequivocal terms that the international community had condemned the recent attacks in Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali and elsewhere.

On speculation that India's public opinion did not favour an early rapprochement with Pakistan, Sinha said that it was the responsibility of the leadership to mould public opinion and not just to follow it.

On Pakistan's efforts to seek international mediation and define Kashmir as the core issue, Sinha recalled the Simla agreement, which required both India and Pakistan to settle all issues, including the Kashmir issue, bilaterally.

Sinha said the Agra summit had failed on account of Musharraf's insistence to focus just on the Kashmir issue to the exclusion of all other issues.

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H S Rao in London
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