Straw supports India''s stand on Kashmir
27 February 2002
The Asian Age
New Delhi: Supporting India’s stand on Kashmir, visiting foreign secretary of Britain Jack Straw on Wednesday said that the dialogue with Pakistan could start only after Islamabad stops supporting terrorism. Mr Straw also pressed for the release of Peter Bleach, a key accused in the Purulia arms-drop case, and requested the government to review his case keeping in view his deteriorating health. Mr Straw, while addressing a joint news conference with external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, claimed that the deteriorating health of Bleach had added a new dimension to the case and Mr Advani had promised to look into the issue. Britain has referred to the presidential pardon granted to five Russians who were also sentenced to a term in prisons in the arms-drop case and sought Bleach’s release on grounds of non- discrimination. On the Indo-Pak relations, Mr Straw said: “We have to reach a position where support for terrorism stops so that a political dialogue can begin.” He said that India and Britain were working unambiguously to isolate terrorism. The British foreign secretary also commended Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for his role in fight against terrorism. He said that Gen. Musharraf “ought to be commended for the action he has taken. He is well aware that Pakistan would be judged by its actions rather than its words.” The visiting leader said that Britain believed that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. “I wouldn’t presume to tell India what it should discuss with Pakistan,” he said in response to a question. Mr Straw also held talks with home minister L.K. Advani, defence minister George Fernandes and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra. Mr Straw also took up the issue of the proposed sale of advanced Hawk jet trainers by British Aerospace Corporation to the Indian Air Force, for which negotiations have gone on for nearly 17 years.