July 1998 News

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Talks with Vajpayee a Waste of Time, says Sharif

31st July 1998

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described the outcome of his talks with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as "zero" and a "waste of time".

In an exclusive interview published in The Island newspaper in Colombo today, Sharif said that the bilateral talks were stalemated. "Yes, it is a stalemate. We are not here to waste each other's time."

The report said the interview took place after the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation leaders returned from their "retreat" at the beach resort of Bentota, 60 km south of Colombo.

Sharif said he told Vajpayee that Pakistan wanted to resume stalled bilateral talks with India. "So let us resolve the issue of Kashmir in a serious and substantive manner so that we would be able to make progress, I told him."

But Sharif said the Indian prime minister was not willing to focus on Kashmir prominently or wanted Kashmir to figure prominently in a joint communique.

"If that is the position, what is the point in having these talks, because Kashmir is the root cause of all the conflicts between India and Pakistan. We did not want to hold talks for the sake of talks, but for the talks to succeed," he added.

However, he said that they did exchange other matters of mutual interest during their informal talks.

He described his Colombo visit as a "success", particularly because he had been able to make his proposal for peace and security in south Asia in his address to the SAARC summit.


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