January 2003 News

Annan offers to mediate in Kashmir dispute

21 January 2003
The Dawn
Masood Haider

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday reiterated his offer of 'good offices' to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He made the offer at a meeting with Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri who accepted it. However, Mr Annan reminded Mr Kasuri that India would also have to accept the offer before he could mediate or facilitate any dialogue between the two countries. In the past India has rejected all such offers by the UN secretary-general insisting that the issues between the two adversaries could only be settled through bilateral talks. Talking to reporters following the meeting, Mr Kasuri said he had told the United Nations Secretry-General that 'the BJP government in India has stepped up anti-Pakistan and Anti-Muslim rhetoric with its eyes on mid-term elections in several states'. He said India must realize that there could be no military solution to the disputes and it must be persuaded by the international community to hold talks with Pakistan for a long-term solution to the disputes. Mr Kasuri said he had asked the secretary-general to use all diplomatic means at his disposal for a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi crisis. BILATERAL MEETINGS The Kashmir dispute, the war against terrorism and Pakistan's role remained in focus during Mr Kasuri's bilateral meetings with five foreign ministers, members of the UN Security Council. During his meeting with French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin, Mr Kasuri discussed efforts needed to combat terrorism. Mr Kasuri expressed Pakistan's desire for peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis. He said public opinion in the Muslim countries would be very harsh in case of a military action against Iraq. In his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jia Xuan, Sino-Pakistan relations were discussed. The two ministers observed that the UN inspectors must be allowed to continue their mission in accordance with the UN resolution and that the crisis should be peacefully resolved. Relations between India and Pakistan also came under discussion. The Chinese minister while reaffirming its support to Pakistan invited Mr Kasuri to visit Beijing. Mr Kasuri also held meetings with Ana Palacio, Luis Ernesto Derbez and Solomon Passy, the foreign ministers of Spain, Mexico, and Bulgaria, respectively. US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Mr Kasuri would meet formally in Washington on Jan 29.


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