February 2004 News

Kashmiris 'moderating' Force: Kasuri

20 February 2004
The News International

New Delhi: Foreign Minister Kurshid Mehmood Kasuri has said that the Kashmiris would be a 'moderating' influence on both India and Pakistan during their talks on the future of the disputed region. In an interview to India's Business Line newspaper published here on Friday, Kasuri said that India and Pakistan should try to involve the Kashmiris 'as soon as possible' in efforts to resolve the dispute. 'This is not a precondition but a matter of common sense because in my opinion the Kashmiris will be a force for moderation. They have more at stake than either India or Pakistan so they will bring in more moderation and common sense into this whole thing,' he said. 'Let us not feel threatened by the Kashmiris. The sooner they are brought in the better,' he added. Meanwhile, Kasuri on Friday said the recent agreement on a roadmap of talks between Pakistan and India showed their commitment to peacefully resolve the outstanding differences, including the issue Kashmir. 'We are satisfied with the positive developments and the agreement reached between the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India on schedule of meetings for the next several months,' Kasuri told a selected group of journalists in Islamabad. Referring to recent meetings with EU Troika in Islamabad, Kasuri said that EU viewed the development as 'a chance for progress towards peace'. 'The international community has welcomed the vision and the determination of the leaders of the two countries to seek a peaceful settlement of all the outstanding issues,' he added. The minister also dilated on the growing interaction and engagements of Europe by Pakistan. He said that Pakistan had comprehensive discussion with the EU envoys on EU-Pak relations, recent developments in Indo-Pak relations, Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation and effective multi-lateralism. Kasuri said that the engagements with Europe had borne fruits and could be gauged from the growing ties between Pakistan and the EU. He recalled the recent statement by EU Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten in which he appreciated the development. Kasuri said political consultations with leading European countries and the EU were becoming an increasing and important element of Pakistan's diplomatic exchanges.


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