December 2000 News

Let the terror stop first: George

3 December 2000
The Asian Age

Bangalore: Defence Minister George Fernandes said that resumption of talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue will happen only if it stops cross border terrorism in India and weeds out all militant training camps from its territory. Welcoming Pakistan''s Saturday announcement that it would exercise ''maximum restraint'' along the Line of Control (LoC) , Mr Fernandes said, ''When they say restraint, what exactly do they mean. Who would not welcome a move of that nature ? It''s high time they did it.'' The defence minister, who was on a day''s visit to Bangalore, visit various defence establishments on Sunday, including the Electronic and Radar Development Establishment, Gas Turbine Research Establishment and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Mr Fernandes said India would certainly like the ceasefire to be a permanent affair. ''Who would not like the ceasefire to be an all time affair,'' he said and added: ''However, by its announcement , Pakistan had admitted that it had been firing from across the border. it will have to be onsided restraint because we always returned the fire.'' When asked about Islamabad''s offer on negotiation with India, he said that negotiation are not related just to stopping fire from across the border. ''if they really stop of firing from other side and also stop the influx of terrorists, then I believe we should be moving in a direction which will help the people of Jammu and Kashmir and also perhaps enable to sit and talk,'' he said. He said India had maintained that Pakistan should first stop firing from across the border and fold up camps for terrorists, before sitting down for talks. ''there has to be normalisation at that level before we can sit down and talk,'' he said. Referring to extension of the India''s unilateral ceasefire beyond the month of Ramzan, he said: ''It depends on what happens. I don''t think we can make a positive statement on that at this point of time.'' mr. Fernandes visited HAL where work on the Light Combat Aircraft is being carried out with the assistance of the Aeronautical Development Agency. When asked about the progress of the much-delayed project, the defence minister said: ''We are at a critical point of getting it ready. our men are doing magnificent job here and our pilots are in great shape and form.''


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