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PM has no plans to meet Pak leaders during SAARC summit: Yashwant Sinha

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
Last updated on: November 20, 2003 21:44 IST
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Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would take part in the SAARC summit in Islamabad in January but would not hold bilateral talks with any Pakistani leader, a private Pakistani TV network, which interviewed External Affairs Minster Yashwant Sinha, said on Thursday.

There is speculation in Pakistan that Vajpayee would meet his Pakistani counterpart Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, if not President Gen Pervez Musharraf to formally kickstart a composite dialogue.

In the excerpts of the interview aired by Geo TV, Sinha also strongly refuted Pakistan's oft-repeated allegations that Indian consulates in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad were promoting terrorism against Pakistan.

"If they have a shred of evidence, let your interior minister to submit it to the Afghanistan government. It is not for Pakistan to decide whether we open a consulate in a third country or not," he said. "Why have they not submitted the evidence? That is because the allegations are baseless."

"If any harm comes to any member of the Indian staff in Jalalabad and Kandahar, we will hold Pakistan responsible," he told the channel.

Pakistan has welcomed Sinha's statement that Vajpayee will attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad. But it asked New Delhi to officially confirm its participation through the diplomatic channels.

"It is a good news that India will attend the SAARC summit," Pakistan foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said.

Referring to Indian reservations in holding bilateral talks, Khan said Pakistan has not asked for any bilateral negotiations or any such meeting during the summit. "We have only invited them to attend the summit," he said.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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