Mush Hopeful Of Resolving Kashmir Issue
17 September 2006
The Times of India
Islamabad: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday said that his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the margins of the NAM summit in Havana 'augured' well for resolving bilateral issues, including the Kashmir problem. Musharraf, who arrived in New York from the Cuban capital to address the UN General Assembly session, told reporters there that his meeting with Singh last night was 'successful' and 'augured' well for resolving problems between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir issue. In his first remarks after the meeting, he said the joint statement issued after the talks was to the satisfaction of both sides. He said he would not call it a victory, but that the peace process had won, the state-run APP news agency reported. Musharraf said that during his meeting with Singh, they did not go into the specifics of solutions of various issues currently being discussed by the two countries. 'We agreed to narrow down the divergences and strengthen convergences. The road forward is the willingness to discuss and resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,' he said. He said the talks at the Foreign Secretary-level between Pakistan and India would be held expeditiously. 'We have not fixed the dates but they are going to be held very soon.' On his invitation to Singh to visit Pakistan, Musharraf said the Indian Prime Minister was keen to visit the country at an appropriate time. Pakistan's official media also hailed the joint statement issued after the Singh-Musharraf meeting as a win-win proposition as it addressed the concerns of both countries. The official media accompanying Musharraf at Havana initially projected the statement as a victory for Pakistan as India had agreed to resume the 'stalled' dialogue process. But a discussion on the state-run PTV projected it as a win-win proposition as the joint statement addressed India's concerns on terrorism and both leaders agreed to set up an 'institutional mechanism' to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations. Only the official media persons accompanied Musharraf to Havana whereas the rest of the newsmen were taken to New York where they were briefed by the General. Musharraf, who would spend the next ten days in the US during which he would address the UN General Assembly session in New York and later travel to Washington for talks with President George W Bush, said that Pakistan government's peace deal in North Waziristan tribal area was not with the Taliban but with the tribal elders there. It was a process launched and carried forward by the grand Jirga or elders' council, the Pakistani leader said. 'There has been no agreement with the Taliban nor will there be any with them in future.'While we are fighting terrorism we should go beyond the military options and address the root causes of the scourge.' Asked about the stepped up agitation by the opposition parties back home on a host of issues, he said 'the fact that I am roaming around shows how confident and relaxed I am.' 'There was no problem in Pakistan and there was no question of destabilisation. This is my longest trip of 18 days and it shows my confidence,' he said. About talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, he said he would discuss with him international issues, including UN reforms, as the agenda is open.