RAWALPINDI: A senior Soviet diplomat told … here today [Jan 14] that his Government was ready to initiate bilateral talks between India and Pakistan for an overall peace settlement if the two countries so desire. He hoped that the Pakistan Government would consider Bangla Desh a reality and provide the basis for such talks which could lead to the withdrawal of forces to the Dec 3 position, repatriation of prisoners of war and restoration of normal trade and economic relations between the two sides. …

[Meanwhile, as reported by agencies in Dacca] Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Prime Minister of Bangla Desh, today [Jan 14] indicated that he was already holding talks with Mrs Indira Gandhi and might soon hold talks with President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for ensuring stability and peace in the subcontinent.

However, he ruled out the possibility of any link between Pakistan and Bangla Desh, and again asked Mr Bhutto to accept the reality of “Indepen­dent and sovereign” Bangla Desh so that a basis may be established for mutual co-operation.

The Sheikh was holding his first Press conference since becoming Prime Minister. Present were more than 200 correspondents representing local and international Press and TV networks. …

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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