June 2003 News

No let-up in cross-border terrorism, says Fernandes

1 June 2003
The Hindu

SINGAPORE: India said on Sunday that there had been no let-up in cross-border raids by Islamic militants in Kashmir, dampening hopes of an early summit with Pakistan. The Defence Minister, George Fernandes, said relations between the neighbours were improving and moving slowly towards a summit between the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf. 'But it's going to take quite some time before these talks are to commence,' he told reporters on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Singapore. Asked what he thought about Pakistan's efforts to crack down on raids by groups based there into Kashmir, he said: 'Cross-border terrorism continues. There has not been any let-up on that.' Mr. Fernandes reiterated that what he called 'the right atmosphere' needed to be created before talks could begin. He also said India was working to improve trade and military relations with China. 'In the last four to five years, our trade relations have expanded so much so that the year just over has seen $5 billion in two-way trade between China and India. Both sides want to expand this trade,' Mr Fernandes said. He said that as part of confidence-building efforts, both sides would be stepping up an officer training programme. 'We would like to build a very close relationship (with China) but it will take time,' Mr. Fernandes added.

 

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