July 2002 News

Straw for permanent end to infiltration across LoC

20 July 2002
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw tonight held second round of talks with External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha after his seven- hour visit to Pakistan where Islamabad was asked to do ‘more’ to ‘permanently’ stop infiltration of militants in Jammu and Kashmir. Straw held parleys with Sinha over dinner at the Hyderabad house which was also attended by National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra following up on their first meeting here yesterday. Straw is due to return home tonight Significantly, in Islamabad, there was no meeting between Straw and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf unlike the former’s previous trips in the last six months as part of international efforts to broker peace between India and Pakistan. ''Obviously we want a permanent end to infiltration ... More needs to be done,'' Straw said at the hastily organised press conference at the Chuklala Air Base near Islamabad, after nearly three-hour-long talks with his Pakistani counterpart Inamul Haq. ''Since my previous visit and the visit of Richard Armitage (US Deputy Secretary of State), the level of infiltration has come down and we welcome it,'' Straw said before emplaning for New Delhi on his way back home. The British Foreign Secretary sidestepped a question whether he was disappointed about not meeting Musharraf, saying ''I came to the region to meet the new Foreign Minister in India and Pakistan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. I have done that and I am going''. Straw said regional and bilateral matters were taken up for discussion in addition to the Kashmir issue during his meeting with Haq. He said the two sides also discussed Afghanistan and the situation in Middle East but refused to divulge further the contents of his talks with the two ministers, saying his stance was ''in the interest of both countries.'' Straw also defended the decision to allow arms sales to India and Pakistan at the time of heightened tension between the two countries. ''We have a more transparant, a tougher system of arms control licensing than most any country in the world, and I stand by those decisions and the Government as whole does as well,'' he said rejecting criticism in Britain that the decision to sell weapons to the two countries could have added to the tension in the region.


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