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October 11, 2001
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Kashmir, dialogue with India to figure in talks with Powell: Pak

Pakistan on Wednesday said that though the focus of the discussion with US Secretary of State Colin Powell during his forthcoming visit to Islamabad would be Afghanistan, the Kashmir issue would also figure prominently.

"Naturally the discussions would focus on Afghanistan. But Indo-Pakistan relations, particularly the Kashmir question, and the need for purposeful and result oriented dialogue between the two countries will make an important part of the deliberations," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan told reporters.

He said details of the visit had not yet been finalised but Pakistan attached a lot importance to it, as Powell was the first cabinet ranking official to visit Pakistan since President George W Bush assumed office.

A whole range of economic issues too was expected to be taken up during the visit, Khan said.

Asked whether India has confirmed dates for External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh's visit to Islamabad, Khan said "We have not heard anything about the dates" and added Pakistan would welcome visits either by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee or Singh.

To a question that Bush has openly contradicted Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf's assertions on Monday that the on-going military campaign in Afghanistan would be short, he said "Our position remains that it should be short and targeted. However, the fight against terrorism could be a long-drawn out affair."

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