Musharraf: No ‘Full' Normalization Without Kashmir Solution
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf said Saturday that resolution of the Kashmir dispute was the only path to the "full" normalization of relations with India.
"For more than half a century, the Kashmir dispute has cast a shadow on relations," Musharraf said in a statement issued shortly after his arrival in New Delhi for a landmark summit with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
"In my talks with the Indian leaders, I will be looking forward to a meaningful, frank and substantial discussion, urging them to join hands with us in resolving this dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people," he said.
"This will facilitate resolution of other issues and lead to full normalization of relations. I am hopeful that my talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee will pave the way for better relations between Pakistan and India."
Musharraf is due to hold formal summit talks with Vajpayee in Agra on Sunday.
Stressing that he had come to India with an "open mind," the general said he was looking forward to his discussions with Indian leaders "on establishing peaceful, tension-free and cooperative relations between our two countries."
Musharraf also said that for the "sake of economic prosperity and peaceful coexistence" Pakistan and India need to maintain dialogue to "resolve disputes and explore opportunities for improving bilateral relations."
"I am glad that this dialogue has been resumed," he said.
Pakistan's insistence on Kashmir as the "core issue" of the summit has been the subject of a bitter war of words, with India equally adamant that Kashmir was just one part of a composite dialogue that should include discussion on nuclear safeguards, terrorism and trade.
S. Anwar Mehmood, information secretary in the Pakistani government, defended Musharraf's arrival statement.
"What else did you expect a leader from Pakistan to say?" Mehmood told Star TV.
"We all know that Kashmir is the problem. it is not a question of highlighting it as he arrives. He is just restating what he and the Pakistan government has said all along." -- NEW DELHI (AFP)
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