March 2001 News

Return to Lahore document, Annan advises India, Pak

15 March 2001
The Asian Age

New Delhi: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit, has offered to mediate between India and Pakistan over Kashmir provided both sides agreed to it. Mr Annan also talked about issues of international terrorism saying that those who give comfort to terrorist groups, will pay the price. “I think it (international terrorism) will require cooperation. This is an issue that the UN General Assembly has discussed and it demands that nations do not give refuge to terrorists and cooperate in dealing with them,” he said in reply to a question. “Because if you give comfort and you give them protection, we all pay a price,” he said. Speaking to reporters on his arrival at the airport, Mr Annan stressed resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute. “In particular, I will be urging a return to the spirit of the Lahore Declaration, the renewal of dialogue with Pakistan in order to reduce tension and build confidence,” Mr. Annan said adding that his “good offices remain available should both parties wish to engage under the UN auspices.” The UN Secretary-General also maintainedthat the Shimla Accord and the Lahore Declaration were the best framework to resolve the dispute. Mr Annan said Pakistan Chief Executive Gen. Pervez Musharraf had told him during his visit to Islamabad last week that he was ready to resume dialogue with India at any time. On India’s claim to permanent membership of the UN Security Council, Mr Annan said it was a complex issue and would take a while to be resolved. “This is an issue that the member states of the UN are discussing and the new president of the General Assembly is taking up the issue... and of course India is one of the countries that is mentioned as deserving of consideration to serve on the council,” he said. Mr Annan, who arrived from Bangladesh, visited Rajputana Rifles headquarters in Delhi cantonment and saw the UN peace keeping operation centre. He is scheduled to witness Parliament proceedings on Friday. A peculiar situation has arisen as Parliament was adjourned for the second successive day on Thursday. As there are no chances of Parliament resuming on Friday, an effort was made to persuade opposition leaders to agree to let the house run for the dignitary. But the request was turned down. Now, Mr. Annan will only meet leaders in their chamber. On Friday, he would call upon president K.R Narayanan, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and external affairs minister Jaswant Singh and possibly defence minister George Fernandes. After staying in New Delhi for two days, he would leave for Hyderabad to attend a meeting organised by CII. He will also meet Andhra pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu. Mr. Annan is on the last leg of his tour to South Asia. In his meetings with Indian leader, New Delhi will raise the issue of international terrorism. The two sides will also discuss Afghanistan and Taliban. The UN secretary general will discuss the peace keeping operations initiated by the world body in various parts of the world. India was the biggest contributor in UN peace keeping operations last year.


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