December 2003 News

Kashmir very complex and difficult issue: British minister

2 December 2003
The News International

LONDON: British Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien said on Monday a complex issue like Kashmir could be resolved only through dialogue between Pakistan and India.Briefing a group of reporters here on Monday evening before his coming visit to Islamabad from December 9 to 12, Brien said Britain warmly welcomed the recent steps taken by the two countries to begin a dialogue process to solve their differences, including over Kashmir.Fielding a question on Kashmir, Brien said: 'It is a very complex and difficult issue' but it did not mean this could not be resolved through bilateral means. He said both Pakistan and India are 'mature' countries, which were capable of resolving the serious issues between them.Asked to comment on massive human rights abuses by Indian security forces in occupied Kashmir, Brien said Britain had always held the view that 'there should be protection of human rights by India' and that there should be no violations of human rights by the Indian government.Questioned that bilateral dialogue between the two nuclear capable neighbours in the past had not led to any conclusive outcome, Brien said, 'we hope they will succeed this time'. Brien agreed that Britain as a colonial power had left behind the Kashmir conflict and had a responsibility to encourage the two sides to resolve this issue through talks. 'We want to see the issue of Kashmir' resolved between Pakistan and India, said the British minister. Brien welcomed the announcement made by President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday to lift ban on the Indian overflights over the territory of Pakistan and described it as a very positive move. However, he said the situation between the two countries still remained very difficult but both President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee were men of courage. 'It is still possible to move to closer dialogue' on the various issues between the two countries, he said.Asked whether the UN resolutions on Kashmir were relevant for the solution of Kashmir, Brien said that was 'something for dialogue' between India and Pakistan, adding 'of course, there is no doubt the UN resolutions are very relevant to the UN'.Asked on the alleged bugging of Pakistan's High Commission here by the British intelligence agency MI-5, Brien repeated the earlier stance taken by Britain, saying, 'we don't comment on these matters at all' and that will 'remain my view' on the issue during my coming visit to Islamabad.On Pakistan-Britain bilateral relations, Brien said his visit was aimed at promoting bilateral trade and further cementing relations between the two countries.During his meeting with Pakistani leaders and officials, he would discuss trade and commerce relations, the issue of terrorism, Pakistan-India relations and the situation in Afghanistan. Brien will meet Commerce Minister Humyaun Akhtar and discuss with him matters relating to trade and issues relating to the Word Trade Organisation.


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