June 2004 News

Khokhar says Kashmir talks 'a good beginning'

28 June 2004
The Dawn

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday described the first high-level meeting with India in three years 'a good beginning' as the two countries decided to engage in a 'serious, constructive and sustained dialogue' on Jammu and Kashmir. 'I saw and found them serious, committed and determined to move forward on a composite dialogue,' Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar told newsmen soon after his arrival from New Delhi after two days of talks. The foreign secretary said the two sides have agreed to have serious, sustained and constructive dialogue on the question of Kashmir. During the first round of talks on Monday, both sides stated their positions, but added the two sides agreed to continue engagement in a sustained manner to find a final settlement. Giving details of the two-day talks, Mr Khokhar said in the first round matters pertaining to peace and security including CBMs were discussed, while on Monday the two sides had a comprehensive discussion on Kashmir. With regard to peace and security, he said the two sides exchanged ideas and proposals on CBMs, and related to both nuclear and conventional. The meeting agreed to take up the proposals when they meet next. On the nuclear CBMs, he said, 'we have agreed and accepted ... we hope to be able to implement these very quickly.' The foreign secretary, however cautioned against creating a hype about the Pakistan-India talks, saying high expectations must be avoided. However, he said 'this is a beginning of a process and I have no hesitation to say it is a good beginning.' He said he would brief the president on Tuesday about his meetings. The foreign secretary also met the Indian National Security Adviser J.N.Dixit, Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. He said the Indian prime minister has sent a message of goodwill to President General Pervez Musharraf. Khokhar said he also met and held a 'useful discussion' with Kashmiri leaders and recalled that Pakistan has been saying that 'Kashmiris are a very important party.' The leaders who met Mr Khokhar included Syed Ali Gillani, Shabbir Shah, Yasin Malik, Abdul Aziz and Mir Waiz. He said the two sides have agreed to restore the original strength of the staff to 110 at their respective missions and agreed in principle to open consulates- general in Karachi and Bombay. The other subjects discussed at the meeting included Siachin, Wullar Barrage, Baghliar Dam, Sir Creek, terrorism, drug trafficking and economic and commercial cooperation. These meetings would be held by August.


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