November 2000 News

Ceasefire will encourage talks moves: U.K.

20 November 2000
The Hindu
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In a statement issued shortly after meeting the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr. Brajesh Mishra, the visiting Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Peter Hain, hoped that India''s move in the month of Ramadan would evoke a positive response from all relevant quarters. ''I hope that the militants and those who support them will respond positively to this encouraging move.'' The announcement ''will create a climate which encourages the resumption of dialogue,'' he said. Mr. Hain ''s observations strike a chord with India, highly placed sources said. New Delhi, after the Kargil war insisted that the dialogue with Pakistan could be revived after Islamabad did its bit to create a climate of trust. For that, it had to demonstrate its intent to rein in cross-border terrorists. Mr. Hain, during the day, held talks with his counterpart, Mr. Ajit Panja and the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh on a broad-based agenda. The two sides exchanged notes about Peter Bleech, who is in Indian custody after being convicted for his involvement in the Purulia arms- drop case. A pardon by the President had led to the release of others convicted in the case earlier this year. The two sides also discussed details of establishing a Joint Working Group on terrorism shortly. This proposal came up for deliberations during the visit to India by the British Home Secretary earlier this year. Given India''s experience in peace-keeping in Sierra Leone and the presence of British soldiers there, the visiting minister discussed the developments in that strife-torn West African State. Specifically, the two sides debated ways to curb smuggling of diamonds from Sierra Leone. Clandestine export of diamonds is funding purchase of weapons by rebel groups. The discussions also revolved round greater Indo-U.K maritime cooperation to counter piracy on the high seas. The Indian side, according to the sources, is keen that such a tie-up be governed by a U.N. mandate.


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