Musharraf, Singh may agree on new CBMs

Published September 14, 2005

NEW YORK, Sept 13: Pakistan is hoping that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may announce dates for visiting Islamabad after his talks with President Pervez Musharraf here on Wednesday, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The meeting, the third between the two leaders, is seen as an important ‘confidence-building exercise’.

Pakistan hopes that by 2007, the two countries would be able to “define the contours of a settlement” for the Kashmir dispute, the sources said.

“You cannot get on the negotiating table what you could not take in the battlefield,” said a senior diplomatic source, quoting a former Soviet foreign minister, when asked if the expected settlement could call for ‘redistribution’ of the disputed territory.

The source said that it would be unrealistic to expect ‘a breakthrough’ from the Musharraf-Singh meeting, but it could lead to “a number of important confidence-building measures.”

The source said that a trilateral meeting involving Pakistan, India and Kashmiri political groups was unlikely, but pointed out that both sides had already consulted the Kashmiri leaders before the Musharraf-Singh talks.

He said the president was not expected to make any major foreign policy announcement in his address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Notably, this year the UN is giving only seven minutes to each leader.

CHANCE MEETING ON: Meanwhile, a diplomatic source told Dawn that President Musharraf was expected to have a ‘chance meeting’ with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday or Thursday.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Jehangir Karamat said earlier this month that such a meeting would take place. However, a Foreign Office spokesman later said that no such meeting was planned.

A senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday that both the ambassador and the spokesman were right. “There will be no planned meeting. Both the leaders will happen to be at the same place at the same time and will shake hands.” Mr Karamat had said that since “all heads of states and governments will be attending the UN General Assembly, they will have a chance meeting. And there’s no harm (in such a meeting).” President Musharraf and Prime Minister Sharon are both attending the current session of the UN General Assembly. Explaining Pakistan’s position on Israel, the source said: “We have told them in unequivocal terms that these contacts cannot lead to a formal recognition. The recognition will only happen when the Palestinian issue is amicably resolved.”

He said by approaching Israel, Pakistan wanted to soften up those lobbies that had traditionally been hostile to Islamabad.

“We also want to send a message to Israel that we do not have any fundamental enmity with that state.”

Pakistan, he said, also wanted to prevent New Delhi from teaming up with Tel Aviv against Islamabad.

Meanwhile, National Security Council secretary Tariq Aziz is arriving here to attend the Musharraf-Singh meeting, the source said. Mr Aziz represents Pakistan in the so-called ‘Track-II’ diplomacy between the two countries.

A former Indian foreign secretary, S.K. Lambah, represents India.

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