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Resolution of Kashmir issue soon: Khatami

December 25, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 24: Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami on Tuesday disclosed that some countries were pressuring Pakistan to abandon its nuclear programme.

“Pakistan is being pressured and influenced to give up its nuclear programme by some countries but these countries should press Israel that has hundreds of nuclear warheads which are a serious threat to peace and security of the world.”

Addressing a joint news conference with Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, the Iranian president, however, pointed out that nuclear programme would not bring security for any nation.

Referring to Iran’s nuclear programme, he said: “We are going to have a nuclear power reactor and we are determined to develop the nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.”

In reply to a question, Mr Khatami said that Russia was helping Iran to set up a nuclear power plant at Bushehr city. He hoped that Russia would remove Iran’s concerns about the nuclear waste so that there was no environmental problem in the region.

Both Mr Khatami and Mr Jamali in their initial remarks said they had fruitful and constructive talks to improve political and economic relations between the two countries. Their talks, they said, also focused on regional issues, defence, cooperation in the field of science and technology, communications, agriculture, trade and investment, Afghanistan and India-Pakistan relations.

The Iranian leader told a reporter that Pakistan and India would very soon be able to find a solution to their problems, especially the Kashmir issue, on the basis of justice and reasoning.

“This region belongs to us, this region belongs to everyone who lives here and we must use our energies and resources for the development of our countries. But there are some countries who don’t want to see development taking place in this part of the world,” he asserted.

“We will do everything possible to remove tension between India and Pakistan,” he said, adding that Iran was the first country which had contacted President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee last year with a view to lowering their differences.

“There is nothing that cannot be resolved through talks and that is why we say that India and Pakistan should engage themselves in talks to resolve their differences,” he maintained.

He said his visit would lead to strengthening of trade and economic relations between the two countries. He said enhanced bilateral cooperation would boost regional security.

Pakistan and Iran, he pointed out, had common geographical boundaries and they had shared goals to push greater collaboration in every field. He expressed the belief that both sides should show their resolve to have increased cooperation.

Asked that now when Pakistan and Iran had no differences over the Taliban what was stopping them to forge better trade and economic ties, Mr Khatami said: “This is exactly what I have discussed with your president and the prime minister and we have agreed that there will be follow-up meetings to make sure that we achieve certain enhanced cooperation.”

Pakistan and Iran, Mr Khatami said, could also play a significant role to unite the Ummah. “Now that we are jointly trying to ensure peace and security in Afghanistan, we can certainly work together for Ummah.”

Asked what role he could play to stop the massacre of Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat, Mr Khatami said Iran was against all kinds of brutalities whether being committed on the Muslims of Palestine, India or elsewhere. “We are against the killing of innocent people, especially those of Muslims,” he said, adding that discrimination was being meted out to Muslims at the global level.

“There is some visible inequality and we see today that coercive methods are being used against weaker countries,” he said, adding that Islam was a religion of peace.

Nevertheless, the Iranian president said, sectarian violence was a serious phenomenon in the region which needed to be taken seriously. “We should try to create such a world in which we can live in peace and harmony”. He regretted that some people were indulging in sectarian violence in the name of Islam.

In reply to a question, Mr Jamali said that Pakistan and Iran were already partners in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. “Both countries have agreed to work for promoting peace and negotiated settlement of disputes in the region.”

The prime minister pointed out that Pakistan-Iran relations were based on old friendship and, “we now have decided to strengthen our relations in every field”.

AFP ADDS: Mr Khatami said Iran would return nuclear waste from Bushehr to Russia, reiterating it had no plans to pursue a nuclear weapons programme.

“We have no problem to send back the nuclear waste or the uranium waste back to the other countries...,” Mr Khatami said.