BONN: Germany has unequivocally told Pakistan that withdrawal of militants from the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir was the "first important step" towards de-escalating the current armed conflict with India.
"The agreement reached in Washington between premier Sharif and President Clinton on concrete steps to re-establish the LoC is a first important step towards defusing the current crisis," the German deputy foreign minister told Sharif's special envoy Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri here yesterday, reports PTI.
During the two leaders' 30-minute meeting, German minister Gunter Verheugen made it clear to kasuri that for the international community "full respect" of the Line of Control was "indispensable".
He also said that the German government had a "great interest" in security and stability in south Asia, and would therefore "encourage" India and Pakistan to resume their dialogue on "all controversial questions", including Kashmir, as soon as the current conflict is settled.
The German minister said the declarations made by the European Union and the group of seven industralised countries and Russia (G-8) on the Kargil conflict also reflect the positions of the German government.
G-8 leaders at their annual summit in Cologne last month while virtually putting the onus on Pakistan to end the conflict condemned violation of the LoC and termed as "irresponsible" any military action to change the status quo in the LoC.
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