June 2003 News

Moscow supports talks on Kashmir: Arms sales to Pakistan ruled out

15 June 2003
The Dawn
Hasan Akhtar

ISLAMABAD: Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Sunday supported Pakistan's desire to resume dialogue with India to resolve all disputes politically. The Russian foreign minister, however, ruled out any military sales to Pakistan, saying Moscow supported 'a political and not a military solution' to the problems between the two countries. Speaking at a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Mr Ivanov said 'We are supporting a political and not a military solution to the conflict between Pakistan and India.' Mr Ivanov, who is the first Russian foreign minister in almost a decade to visit Pakistan, said 'We would use our relations with Pakistan and India to support a dialogue (on Kashmir).' When asked if Russia would consider supplying weapons to Pakistan to match those being sold to India in order to strike a conventional arms balance between the two countries, Mr Ivanov said Russia was not planning or striving to contribute to an arms race in the region as it happened during the Cold War when the Soviet Union supplied weapons to India and the United States to Pakistan. 'We are interested in a political solution to the problem and we should avoid any military tension between India and Pakistan.'After the opening statement by Mr Kasuri, the Russian foreign minister welcomed thaw in the Pakistan-India relations, and said he wanted the two countries to resolve all their outstanding issues, including the Kashmir problem, through peaceful dialogue. Immediately after his arrival here leading a large delegation comprising senior officials and entrepreneurs, Mr Ivanov and Mr Kasuri held discussions on what the latter described as 'almost everything under the sun,' including terrorism, Afghanistan and emerging Pakistan-India scenario. Mr Ivanov expressed Russia's appreciation of Pakistan's role in the anti-terror war.Mr Kasuri strongly pleaded for expanding the present 'pathetic trade relations' between Pakistan and Russia, underscoring the need for greater interaction between the two sides. He also reiterated Pakistan's desire to open a comprehensive and meaningful dialogue with India on the core issue of Kashmir and several other issues to promote peace in South Asia. Mr Kasuri told his Russian counterpart that Islamabad would prefer Russian help for expansion of steel mill in Karachi over offers from other countries.The two sides expressed unanimity of views on several political and economic issues. Mr Kasuri said that Pakistan was sending its ministers of telecommunication and agriculture separately to achieve Russian collaboration in these fields.He also pointed out that the joint ministerial commission set up by the two countries, was expected to contribute to promotion of cooperation and collaboration in several economic, technical and commercial spheres. Towards the end of his one-day visit, the Russian foreign minister also called on President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali.An statement issued after the formal talks between the delegations of the two sides said the meeting focused on bilateral relations and took steps for further cooperation in several important areas, including the oil and gas sector, metallurgy, aerospace and agriculture. The statement said 'The international situation, in particular the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and the regional issues were also discussed. Pakistan's sincere desire for the resumption of a composite and result-oriented dialogue between Pakistan and India for the resolution of all differences between the two countries, including the issue of Kashmir, was conveyed to foreign minister Igor Ivanov who later left for New Delhi where he would spend a day holding discussions with his Indian counterpart and other important government leaders.' Please Visit Our Sponsor (ads open in separate window)


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