May 2004 News

Natwar urges 'constructive' Kashmir talks

31 May 2004
The Daily Times

NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh on Monday called for a 'constructive' dialogue with Pakistan but entered a war of words with Pakistan over how to resolve the Kashmir dispute. Singh said India wanted 'frank discussions' on all issues including Kashmir. 'We have to tell them no positive relationship can be one- sided, that we should work together without acrimony ... that the new government is looking for a constructive and creative dialogue,' AFP quoted Singh as telling the Hindustan Times newspaper.He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government had 'no fundamental differences' with the administration of Vajpayee, who had built a warm rapport with Musharraf. 'We will have an objective and independent foreign policy that will keep our vital interests in mind,' Natwar Singh said.Iftikhar Gilani adds Indian Foreign Secretary Shashank asked Pakistan to avoid any 'uncalled-for controversy' and stop making inferences that there were differences in intent between the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 2004 Islamabad Joint Statement. He told reporters that while India was committed to all agreements and declarations including the January 6 Islamabad statement, the Simla Agreement continued to be the bedrock of India- Pakistan relations. He assured Pakistan that India would also abide by all subsequent bilateral agreements including those signed by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. He said India was committed to previously scheduled dialogue including a meeting of foreign ministers in August. He said the process would give the countries the chance to discuss 'any unnecessary apprehensions'. 'Till then, it would perhaps be better to avoid any uncalled-for controversy in or through the media,' he said.


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