7th April 1997
Express News Service
NEW DELHI: UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's advice to India and Pakistan is, "solve the smaller problems first and move ahead."
"When you tackle a complex problems of many parts, it is better to resolve the smaller issues so that the dialogue does not come to a standstill." the UN chief told journalists here with reference to bilateral relations between India and Pakistan.
Annan's stance is a rejection of Pakistan's position that Kashmir should be the "core issue" of any dialogue between India and Pakistan and that it should be resolved first before progress is made in other areas.
Ruling out a mediatory role for the United Nations in an effort to normalize relations between the two, Annan emphasized that direct talks were the best possible solution to resolve bilateral differences.
He said progress on issues of mutual benefit like trade, liberalization of the visa regime, tourism and communications would be more conducive to resolving the more contentious problems.
Annan's view on making progress in areas of common interest is a vindication of India's long held stance that the Kashmir issue should not bog down progress on all other issues.
Hailing the "good neighborly" policy activated by India, Annan said, once relations improved between India and Pakistan there could be a shift in resources spent on military expenses to social areas where they are desperately needed.
On nuclear disarmament, the UN chief differed with India's position that it would not accede to a global treaty to ban nuclear testing till the nuclear powers set a time frame for the elimination of their nuclear weapon stocks. He described the CTBT at the first step towards elimination of nuclear weapons and said the hoped the nuclear weapon states would "have the courage to dismantle their arsenal."
On the West Asia issue, Annan said he would convene a UN General Assembly meet if he got 50 percent positive response from members.
The Times of India News Service
NEW DELHI: THE United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said here on Monday that the 1948 resolution of the security Council on Kashmir could not solve the problem since "it has not obviously solved the problem all these years."
Instead, he suggested the best way to confront the problem is through direct talks between India and Pakistan.
Mr Annan, who held talks separately with external affairs minister I.K Gujral and his Pakistani counterpart Gohar Ayub Khan during the course of the day pointed out. "I applaud the resumption recently of direct talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. The UN will give this process full support."
Talking to newspersons Mr Annan said he appreciated New Delhi's endeavour towards creating a friendly neighborhood. He mentioned the recent Indo-Bangladesh treaty on sharing the Ganga waters and the Indo-Nepal treaty on Mahakali project as proof on India's effort.
About India-Pakistan talks, the secretary-general seemed to agree with the Indian approach when he said: "When some particular issues prove intractable, it is ideal to agree on solving those issues in the relationship which are less thorny. In this sense, I will appreciate it if India and Pakistan improve their contacts in the fields of visas, trade and communication.
Mr Annan answered a volley of questions, including those on the UN reforms, US debts to the world body, situations in Afghanistan and Africa, West Asia peace process and the politics of sanctions.
On the UN reforms both while addressing the inaugural session of the 12th NAM ministerial meeting in the morning and talking to the press in the afternoon. Mr Annan agreed with the NAM contention that the UN still reflected the geopolitical realities of the 1940s and hence there was need for change it tune with the present day reality. However he pointed that it was up to the 185 UN members to suggest how the Security Council could be expended.
The secretary-general addressed on the need for score vigorous South-South co-operation. Pointing out that, "the commitment to development is one of the guiding beacons of the work of the United Nations". He favoured an approach to development that "takes full account of the economic, political and technological realities of our times-