May 2003 News

Kashmir Needs Compromise: PM

28 May 2003
The Hindustan Times

Berlin: Prime Minister AB Vajpayee said on Wednesday that a resolution of the Kashmir issue would need 'serious compromises'. Speaking to German publication Der Spiegel in Berlin during his two-day visit to Germany, Vajpayee was asked if he thought Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was 'trustworthy'. He said: 'I am prepared to negotiate with him.' Vajpayee also said he would 'retire' if his third peace initiative with Pakistan failed. Vajpayee welcomed the restrictions imposed by Pakistan on the Hizbul Mujahideen recently, but added that other steps would have to follow. 'Just now Pakistan seems to have prohibited the most radical group of the Mujahideen, (which) operated in Kashmir. If this is the case and has real consequences, I can only welcome this step. Others have to follow, however,' he said. When it was pointed out that the world had been surprised when he extended the 'hand of friendship' to Pakistan last month, Vajpayee said: 'It should not have surprised anyone. I stressed more than once that we desire peace with Pakistan and strive for friendly co-operation. To achieve this, I travelled by bus to Lahore in 1999 and invited President Musharraf to Agra two years later although the atmosphere was poisoned by fierce fighting then.' 'The geographical situation of our two countries alone makes good relations between India and Pakistan indispensable. We all can win, if we do not exhaust ourselves any more in useless confrontation,' he added. However, the prime minister insisted that the 'necessary prerequisite' to continue the dialogue was for Pakistan to put an end to cross-border terrorism. Vajpayee was asked if he was concentrating on improving trade, transport and cultural exchanges. The prime minister replied: 'If Indians and Pakistanis understand that living together peacefully brings advantages, they will be much more willing than today to find creative solutions for the complicated central problem (of Kashmir).' About his expectations from the German visit, Vajpayee said India and Germany felt the same way about the new world order, and the two were partners in the fight against international terrorism. At a joint press conference with the Indian Prime Minister, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he appreciated Vajpayee's peace initiatives. Schroeder added that he would tell Musharraf that Islamabad should respond appropriately, when he meets him in Berlin next month. Take two: Interpreting the PM's remarks on Compromises Could mean accepting LoC as international border. Idea saleable in India despite hawks Retirement Says he's done his best, but wants a last shot at peace with Pak - and a place in history


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