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Natwar Singh's visit important: Pakistan

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
October 02, 2005 19:22 IST
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Ahead of External Affairs Minister K Natwar's Singh visit beginning in Islamabad Sunday night, Pakistan said it attached a lot of "importance" to his visit during which it would press for speeding up the peace process.

"I attach a lot of importance to these talks," Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri said in Islamabad.

Observing that "many people want the peace process to be much faster", Kasuri said he would take up the issue with Singh during the talks scheduled to be held Monday.

Kasuri the two sides would review the progress of the talks they had held earlier and prepare guidelines for the parleys to be held in January.

Singh, who arrives in Islamabad Sunday night, will hold talks with Kasuri on the progress of the second round of the Composite Dialogue process and to revive the Joint Commission between the two countries, which has remained dormant since 1989.

The external affairs minister will meet President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on October 4 before leaving for Karachi.

On the Kashmir issue, Kasuri said Pakistan feels that greater interaction between the leaders and people on both sides of the Kashmir would throw up a solution.

"Kashmiri leaders on both sides should be afforded more opportunities for interaction as they are in a position to come up with a solution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of Islamabad, New Delhi and the region's peoplem," he was quoted as saying in the daily Dawn in Islamabad.

"Pakistan feels that if you allow greater interaction between the Kashmiri leaders on both sides of the Line of Control and give them time for brainstorming, they will come to some solution reflective of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and of Pakistan and India," Kasuri said.

Asked about the prospects of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project in view of the Indian vote against Iran in the International Atomic Energy Agency, he said so far there has been no negative indications.

He said Pakistan wants a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear programme issue and it had adopted a common position on it with the Asian and African blocs at the IAEA.

"Let us give peace and diplomacy a chance, as suggested by IAEA Director-General Mohammad El Baradai," Kasuri said when asked what situation he visualised if Iran was referred to the Security Council.

He expressed the hope that there might be some progress on the front before the next meeting of the IAEA.

Asked about the withdrawal of US and UK troops from Iraq, the minister said friends of Iraq and all those who wanted
peace would like the political process to succeed. "But for that purpose," he said, "Shias, Sunnis and the Kurds should take part in the process."

He quoted a recent statement made by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal that immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq could lead to chaos and instability. "No friend of Iraq would like that to happen."

Kasuri said Islamabad felt upset by the situation that Iraq was facing. Pakistan, he said, had offered technical help to Iraq and a number of Iraqi diplomats had been trained in Islamabad.

"We have also offered training facilities to Iraqi security personnel," he said.

Also Read:
The Iran vote and after
Natwar's Pakistan visit: Peace may get a boost

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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