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to Vajpayee's initiative

Germany asks Pak to respond
to Vajpayee's initiative

By V S Chandrasekar in Berlin
May 28, 2003 20:44 IST
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Germany on Wednesday asked Pakistan to make an appropriate response to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's latest Kashmir peace initiative.

Addressing a joint press conference in Berlin with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said: "I am very happy to emphasise and welcome the prime minister's efforts to achieve constructive resolution of the issues of cross-border terrorism and Kashmir. Any time I am prepared to say in public that I do expect an appropriate response [from Pakistan]."

When the chancellor, who is due to meet Pervez Musharraf next month, was asked what he would tell the Pakistani president, he quoted an Indian saying: "Never say in advance what you would tell him before you speak to the guest."

In his opening remarks, Schroeder expressed his respect and admiration for Vajpayee's renewed effort for peaceful resolution of Kashmir. "We are of the opinion that such efforts are laudable and everybody should support it," he said.

When Vajpayee was asked what India expected of Germany to do in persuading Pakistan to put an end to cross-border terrorism, the prime minister replied: "Yeh teda sawal hai (this is a tricky question)." He said India and Germany shared similarity of views on cross-border terrorism.

The prime minister said Germany is a member of the international coalition in the fight against terrorism and has raised its voice against violence in Kashmir.

"When President Musharraf meets Chancellor Schroeder I would like him to say that there has to be an end to cross-border terrorism (and) convey India's readiness to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including Kashmir."

To a German reporter's question why India was hesitant about holding a referendum in Kashmir despite an old UN resolution to that effect, the prime minister replied that India is a democratic country and from time to time elections have been held in Jammu and Kashmir. "The people of the state have given a clear verdict and there is no need for any fresh decisions [referendum]," he said.

Earlier, the two leaders held one-to-one meeting as part of the annual summit they had agreed upon and the discussions extended over a working lunch hosted by the chancellor.

In his opening remarks, Vajpayee said India and Germany shared a common perspective on terrorism. "We appreciate Germany's understanding of the problems faced by us from cross-border terrorism."

He said the two countries also shared a vision of a  cooperative, multipolar world order. An integrated and expanded Europe would have an important place in this world order, he added.

"India attaches great importance to its relations with the EU and we will, therefore, watch these developments with interest," he said.

The prime minister said he has extended an invitation to Schroeder to visit India next year so that the two countries could maintain the tradition of annual summits to sustain the momentum of bilateral relations.


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V S Chandrasekar in Berlin