April 2005 News

Musharraf For Early Inclusion Of Kashmiris In Talks

16 April 2005
Agence France-Presse

Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday called for an early inclusion of Kashmiris in the Pakistan-India dialogue process as he left on a three-day visit to New Delhi on the first leg of his three-nation tour. 'We will try to make them (Kashmiris) a part (of the dialogue process) as soon as possible,' he said to a question while talking to reporters before his departure. 'As far as I am concerned, early the better, but we need to see it has to suit our counterpart (the Indian leadership) and us,' he added. The president who would be meeting the Kashmiri leaders in New Delhi said it was very important that he met them. 'It is extremely important that I meet them because we have to decide on their future,' he said and added, 'Therefore, their involvement is extremely important'. Musharraf agreed with the media reports, which were describing his visit to India as 'historic'. 'I think it is a very historic visit after Agra. 'I think it (visit) has more chances of optimism because the environment-when you compare Agra with today-is very different; it is a congenial environment, it is a friendly environment,' he added. He said there was a desire from both sides to make the visit a success and 'therefore, I think it is very much a historic visit'. 'It is a highly important visit. We are going there with an open mind and heart to discuss all issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,' Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told AFP before the departure. Musharraf is visiting India at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to watch a cricket match between Pakistan and India. The president will also visit the Philippines and Indonesia on the second leg of his weeklong visit. Pakistan, he said, had very good and friendly relations with the two Southeast Asian countries and hoped his visit would help to further strengthen these ties and develop understanding on all political and world issues. The talks, he added, would also focus on the subject of enhancing economic and trade ties. In Indonesia, the president said, he would also offer his condolences on the recent tsunami disaster. Musharraf would also attend the Bendang conference to be attended by Asian and African world leaders. The president said he would exchange views with these leaders, saying it has its own significance. First Lady Begum Sehba Musharraf, Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Minister of State for Religious Affairs Amir Liaquat Hussain, Minister of State for Education Ghulam Bibi Bharwana, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Women's Welfare Nilofar Bakhtiar, and Foreign and Information secretaries are accompanying the president, besides other officials. Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar was to join the delegation in New Delhi.


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