'UK encouraging Kashmir talks'
3 October 2004
London: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that the UK is working hard to encourage Pakistan and India enter into talks for a peaceful solution of Kashmir. 'We have worked very hard to encourage a peaceful resolution of this long-standing conflict. There is now dialogue where before there was conflict between India and Pakistan,' he was speaking at the Labour party's annual conference at Brighton here on Thursday. Mr Straw said that he was 'pleased that gradually despair and violence has been replaced by hope and a future.' Pakistan and India are presently engaged in a composite dialogue for solving their outstanding issues, including the core issue of Kashmir. Referring to the Middle East crisis, Mr Straw said that there was 'no greater challenge to the international order than the terrible conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.' Mr Straw said that the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution endorsing the roadmap and which spelled out the 'steps which both sides have to take to achieve two aims of two states, Israel and Palestine living side by side.' The British Foreign Secretary said that 'withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories could never happen overnight so we should, all of us, welcome the Israeli government's plan to withdraw from Gaza and dismantle the unlawful settlements there.' He billed this as 'a courageous and important step towards the implementation of the roadmap', adding that Britain would actively support the Palestinians 'in practical ways to prepare them to take full control of that part of their land.' The British Foreign Secretary said that the Middle East roadmap imposed obligations on the two sides in this 'brutal conflict.' The Palestine Authority should rein in the 'terror groups' who continue to cause misery to the Israelis and Israel should also end target killings of Palestinians.