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Pakistan reconciles after war of words

Saturday, July 17, 2010 06:30:00 PM, Agencies

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Islamabad: Pakistan appears to have piped down on Saturday after two days of acrimony with India with its leaders saying it wanted continuation of the bilateral dialogue and is serious about normalisation of Indo-Pak ties.

Both Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made conciliatory statements today against the backdrop of the war of words between the two sides after talks between their Foreign Ministers on Thursday failed to make any headway.

Gilani, who described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an "honourable man", said "Pakistan wants the continuation of dialogue with India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured me that all issues will be discussed."

Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Lahore he said, "We want talks, they (India) too want talks. When talks are held, we will discuss all issues. At this stage, I cannot say anything in the air.

He was responding to a question on the talks between the Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S M Krishna.

Gilani said Singh had assured him that all issues between the two countries would be discussed, an apparent reference to the meeting between the two in Thimphu on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in April.

In Islamabad, Qureshi, who had yesterday blamed India for lack of progress in the talks, said today that Pakistan is "very serious" about normalising bilateral ties so that the two sides could make a "new beginning of normal relations."

Qureshi said, "We are very serious about normalising our relations with India. I met with my Indian counterpart in Islamabad just day before yesterday. We agreed to embark on a sustained dialogue process."

The decision to continue the talks is a "good augury," he said.

"For too long, Pakistan and India have been entangled in a relationship of conflict. It is high time our two countries engage, with full sincerity of purpose, to resolve all bilateral disputes and make a new beginning of normal relations anchored in sovereign equality and mutual interest," he said.

Qureshi said normal relations between Pakistan and India will have "far-reaching salutary effects" for South Asia and beyond.

"Pakistan will do its utmost to make this happen," he said in his opening remarks at a meeting of officials of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) forum.

Sharp differences arose during talks between Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S M Krishna here on Thursday over a roadmap and timeframe for future engagements.

The two ministers engaged in verbal jousting after their talks. Qureshi yesterday claimed that the parleys had not gone well because Krishna repeatedly received instructions from New Delhi during the talks.

"It is the nature of India-Pakistan talks that whenever there is progress, there is always a last-minute hitch. There was no hitch from Pakistan's side," Qureshi said yesterday.

Krishna rejected Pakistan's contention that India was not ready to discuss all issues and asserted that all "core" and "burning" problems were deliberated upon with the aim of reducing trust deficit.

Qureshi today referred to a wide range of issues during his speech at the FoDP meeting, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's reconstruction efforts in parts of the country affected by militancy and violence.




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