Kashmir key to peace, India told
23 July 2004
Javed Rana and Faizul Haque
Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf told Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh in their first talks Friday that the key to peace between the nuclear neighbours lay in settling the 56year-old Kashmir dispute. Singh met General Musharraf at his official Army House residence in Rawalpindi for almost one hour and a half, at the end of a visit to attend a regional Foreign Ministers' forum. Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh Friday insisted that New Delhi together with Islamabad is committed to settle all the bilateral issues including Jammu and Kashmir following his meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf who called for disputed Valley's solution within 'reasonable' time-framework. 'India and Pakistan are committed to discuss and settle all the bilateral issues including that of Jammu and Kashmir to the satisfaction of both sides, said Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh before his departure to New Delhi in a written statement. He insisted 'I repeat, India and Pakistan are committed to discuss and settle all the bilateral issues including that of Jammu and Kashmir to the satisfaction of both'. The President called for 'simultaneous' progress on all issues and most notably the central issue of Jammu and Kashmir, said an official statement by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, citing Musharraf's meeting with Natwar. 'No aspect of our relationship, including Jammu and Kashmir, was left out of our warm, frank and realistic discussion,' Natwar told reporters at Islamabad airport while referring to his meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf which lasted for 90 minutes. Natwar said, Delhi and Islamabad have reviewed their relationships, saying 'both sides reiterated the importance of continuing the dialogue process in an atmosphere free of violence, and to tackling the scourge of terrorism with renewed vigour.' 'It is important to address this issue (Kashmir) with sincerity with a view to reaching a final settlement that accorded fully with the legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiris within a 'reasonable' time-frame,' the President told Natwar, said the Foreign Ministry. President asked the Indian Foreign Minister to provide 'comfort' to the Kashmiris as they had the most important stake in the success of the process, the statement added. Kashmiri leadership is concerned over New Delhi and Islamabad for not referring them as a legitimate party in January's statement. However, Pakistan insisted that Kashmiri leadership would be included in the dialogue process on Kashmir at some point of time, something India not ready to accept. Kashmiris say they have yet to gain the peace dividend of lowering of tension between India and Pakistan as Delhi continues to commit atrocities in the held Valley without any outlet. 'I mentioned that our intention to carry on a sustained, a steady dialogue with Pakistan', ' said Natwar while the President conveyed to the Indian External Affairs Minister Pakistan's commitment to making the composite dialogue process a success. 'I found the attitude of the Pakistani leadership constructive and positive,' said Natwar who discussed progress with the President hitherto made in the process of composite dialogue that began in February. He said, 'the next three weeks will see intensive interaction between our countries with six meetings on different subjects in the composite dialogue process' which would follow bilateral meeting between Foreign Ministers of two countries. The President expressed satisfaction at the successful outcome of the meeting of the SAARC Council of Ministers and the important decisions that have been taken to promote regional cooperation in South Asia, said an official statement issued by Pakistan's Foreign Ministry. Natwar Singh expressed his appreciation for the welcome and hospitality extended to him and his delegation and satisfaction at the successful conclusion of the SAARC ministerial meeting, official statement concluded. India, Pakistan for 'logical conclusion' of talks: Natwar After his arrival at the New Delhi airport, Natwar Singh told reporters that during his meeting with President Musharraf, he told him the dialogue process had to be sustained as resolution of some of the disputes might take sometime. Singh said that President Musharraf was satisfied with the progress in the dialogue process between the two countries and reiterated his commitment to establish 'good neighbourly' relations between the two nations. 'To President Musharraf, I mentioned our intention to carry on and sustain a steady dialogue with Pakistan,' the Indian external affairs minister said. 'I told him (President Musharraf) that this is not a 100-metre race and we will have to take it forward slowly,' he said. Singh said, 'Both sides agreed to take the dialogue to a logical conclusion and resolve all issues to the satisfaction of both the countries.' He also said that both India and Pakistan have reiterated 'the importance of continuing the dialogue process in an atmosphere free of violence and tackling the scourge of terrorism with renewed vigour. No aspect of our relationship was left out of our long, frank and realistic discussions' in Islamabad, said Singh who was in Pakistan to attend the SAARC ministerial conference where on the sidelines he held bilateral meetings with several senior Pakistani leaders including President Musharraf. The Indian minister had a 90-minute meeting with President Musharraf in Islamabad before returning home. This was the first meeting of an Indian minister of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government with the Pakistani President. On India's allegations of cross-border terrorism, Natwar Singh said that President Musharraf had assured him he would 'look into' New Delhi's concerns about it. Singh described Pakistan's attitude to the peace process with India as 'constructive and positive'. He also told reporters that there was no doubt in Islamabad about the new Indian government's commitment to the peace process, which was initiated by Atal Behari Vajpayee government. He said, 'India and Pakistan are committed to discuss and settle all bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, to the satisfaction of both sides. We shared our perception on all issues. We expressed satisfaction on the wide range of contacts taking place at the governmental and non-governmental levels,' he added. Kashmir key to peace, India told.