Kasuri hails Indian PM’s statement

Published September 6, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Sept 5: Foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri on Monday welcomed the Indian Prime Minister’s statement that his talks with the APHC leaders would have a positive effect on the Kashmir issue and said Pakistan was in favour of the meeting.

Mr Kasuri was talking to newsmen at a reception he and his wife had hosted for heads of the diplomatic missions and their spouses at the Foreign Office on Monday evening.

Asked if any breakthrough was expected on the Kashmir issue at the Musharraf-Manmohan meeting in New York later this month, he said: “If the same spirit persists as it did during their last two meetings then I am hopeful of a forward movement and some positive steps.”

On Indian foreign secretary’s statement that map of India cannot be redrawn, the foreign minister said: “And we have said that we will not accept the Line of Control as border.”

Asked if any CBMs were expected between Pakistan and Israel after the initial contact, Mr Kasuri said: “Well we will watch now.” He added: “The reason for what we did was because we wanted to strengthen those people in Israel as well as all over the world who are in favour of evacuation of occupied territories.”

On the likely follow-up steps, he said: “Our response will be modulated according to progress on Palestine.” When asked what was the most promising aspect of the meeting, Mr Kasuri said the fact that the Israeli foreign minister was “very happy” and later repeated publicly what he had said earlier privately that “it was an epoch-making event”.

Mr Kasuri said he had requested the Israeli foreign minister to facilitate the Pakistani delegation’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and others. However, Mr Kasuri did not elaborate on “others”. He said the Israeli foreign minister’s response to his request was positive.

The Indian High Commissioner brief reaction to the Pakistan-Israel contact was: “It is very good.” The Chinese ambassador saw it as an important development that would not harm but benefit Pakistan.—Q.A.

LINKS WITH ISRAEL: Making another important revelation, Mr Kasuri disclosed that Pakistan had clandestine contacts with Israel for the last one decade but made it clear that this was the first time that Pakistan had openly shook hands with the Jewish state, adds Online.

Mr Kasuri stated this while talking to journalists following the standing committee on foreign affairs’ meeting in Islamabad.

The minister said the purpose of having contacts with Israel was to strengthen our lobby in the existing situation.

Lauding Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip, Mr Kasuri said Pakistan appreciated Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza strip but the time was not yet ripe to recognize Israel.

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