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Resolve Kashmir Along With Other Issues: Aziz Email this page
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New Delhi, Nov. 24 (NNN): As he extended an invitation to his counterpart Manmohan Singh to visit his country, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz hinted that India must resolve the long-pending Kashmir tangle along with other issues for a lasting peace in the South Asian region.
Aziz met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday. Though Aziz did not make any formal proposals on Kashmir, he did admit that Kashmir has to be discussed in tandem with all other issues.

"As regards Jammu and Kashmir, we believe this is an issue that we all need to discuss and address. Progress on other issues will be made in tandem with it," Aziz told reporters after his luncheon meeting with Manmohan Singh.

The Pakistan leader also clarified that President Pervez Musharraf's controversial proposal on demiltarising Kashmir was only for internal debate in Pakistan.

The two sides have also agreed to start the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service as well as the Jammu-Sialkot bus service. This will follow technical-level talks between the two nations in the first week of December, but no agreement on travel documents has been reached.

"We've talked about the proposed bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. Foreign Secretary-level talks are slated in December and that is when details will be sorted out," Aziz said.

Aziz, who is on his maiden trip to India, invited Singh during his talks with him, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said in New Delhi, adding that the invitation was accepted.

The dates of the visit will be worked out through diplomatic channels, he added.

Speaking about his interactions with Hurriyat leaders on Tuesday, Aziz said that the conglomerate was an important and key constituent in Kashmir. India has reacted by saying that it is willing to speak to anyone, even those who are outside the electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The Government of India has expressed its willingness to talk to all opinions in Jammu and Kashmir. As far as travel to Pakistan is concerned, the Government of India will consider these requests as and when they are made," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said.

Both the Prime Ministers had a meeting for 45 minutes assisted by a few aides, which was followed by the delegation-level talks at the Hyderabad House in the Capital.

"The Prime Minister said that that India was committed to addressing all items of bilateral issues including Jammu and Kashmir in a sincere and purposeful manner," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said.

At the end of the day, it was about damage control and after days of rhetoric, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to taking the dialogue process forward.During the meeting the Indian side said it was committed to addressing all bilateral issues, including Kashmir, in a "sincere and purposeful manner", Saran said.

Aziz said after the meeting that progress on resolving the Kashmir problem would have to be made in tandem with forward movement on other issues between India and Pakistan.

Musharraf's proposal: Meanwhile, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's proposal on Kashmir was just food for thought and aimed at testing public reaction, Aziz told separatist leaders from Kashmir during their meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.

"When we raised this issue with Aziz, he told us there is nothing concrete about the proposal. The issue has not even been discussed internally in Pakistan," All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who was present at the meeting, told rediff.com on Wednesday.

Musharraf had proposed dividing Jammu and Kashmir into seven regions as a possible solution to the dispute between India and Pakistan.

Farooq admitted that the Pakistan prime minister, who is on a two-day visit to India, did attempt to bring about unity between the two warring factions of the APHC -- one led by him and the other pro-Pakistan faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani."We know that unity is in our interest, but it cannot be forced on us by Pakistan.

It is an internal matter and we will sort this out because APHC represents the sentiments of the people of Kashmir," he said.According to the Mirwaiz, the Pakistan PM laid emphasis on confidence-building measures.

"If things go well the bus service between Srinagar and Muzzaffarabad might start fairly soon and later we would have similar bus services from two other points," he said.

Asked when the APHC would resume dialogue with the Government of India, the Mirwaiz said the APHC resolution to go to Pakistan did not mean that they were placing preconditions for dialogue with the Indian leadership.

"We are ready to hold talks with the government even before going to Pakistan," he added.

The bilateral talks between Prime Minister Singh and his Pakistani counterpart will pave way for an acceptable solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir, the Mirwaiz hoped.

"Of course, there can be no solution without the involvement of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the dialogue," he added.

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