September 1999 News

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Jaswant rules out change in country's stand on LoC

1 September 1999
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: India today ruled out converting the Line of Control (LoC) into and international border, but said it was open to resuming talks with Pakistan to settle all differences including Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked to comment on the suggestion of the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, to convert the LoC into an international border, the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh said that "Parliament has a stand on the subject which defined the Government of India's stance." Mr. Singh, who spoke to the media at the Press Club today, also reiterated that the Government was open to resuming the "composite dialogue" with Pakistan provided Islamabad terminated its support to cross-border terrorism.

Denying the pre-condition to these talks, he pointed out that cessation of support to insurgents was a necessary "ingredient" for a "meaningful dialogue" with Islamabad on Kashmir.

India and the United States, who were both subjected to international terrorism, were likely to carry forward an extended dialogue of Afghanistan, the hub of global militancy.

The Minister pointed out that a team of Indian officials was on its way to U.S to discuss Afghan developments. This meeting, the first of its kind, reflected a "convergence of interests" between New Delhi and Washington, he observed. The ensuing dialogue was "a step towards deepening consultations between Indian and U.S. on a vital subject."

The subjection of the U.S to terrorism was evident from the bombings of its missions in Tanzania and Kenya last year. These attacks, the U.S. believes were masterminded by the Afghanistan-based Saudi millionaire, Osama Bind Laden.

"Osama's hand in Kargil"

Similar forces were also involved in cross-border insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Singh indicated. To a question, the Minister said that Osama bin Laden's hand was visible in Kargil intrusions. "We have come across reports (about Osama bin Laden's involvement) which we will reveal at an appropriate time," he said.

Asked whether the convergence of interests between the U.S> and India was temporary, he pointed out that international relations did not function in a `vacuum' and were inherently `episodic'. However, there was greater global awareness about the menace of international terrorism, he added.

The Minister, to a question, denied that India will move the International Court of Justice over the Pakistani intrusion of Kargil. "We do not seek compensation and justice through the ICI," he said. Pakistan had been punished by the Indian armed forces for its misadventure in Kargil. It had suffered heavy casualties and brought upon itself the `ruination' of its economy.

Pakistan's latest claim that it had repulsed an Indian Army attack in the Shyok-Turtuk sector was "completely unfounded." The Minister also denied reports about a Pakistani intrusion in the Kutch area following the shooting down of its Atlantique maritime reconnaissance plane by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Violation of Indian land and air space will meet the same Indian response as demonstrated in the eviction of the Pakistani intruders in Kargil.

Mr. Singh denied that the BJP was encouraging dynastic rule in the country. "Dynastic rule comes to the fore only when you jump into the highest office of the land simply because you are so related.

Asked about his son being flashed by the BJP from Barmer in Rajasthan, Mr. Singh said that "he is only candidate from journalism and till August 7, he was in uniform as a serving officer". Questioned about the basis of the BJP's attack on Ms. Sonia Gandhi on account of her foreign origin, Mr. Singh said that "our objection is not on Sonia Gandhi acquiring Indian citizenship. We believe that our Constitution should be amended such that only natural-born citizens can occupy the highest constitutional posts."


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