New Delhi dialogue has concluded successfully

India and Pakistan are likely to hold ministerial level discussions on the issue of diesel exports to Pakistan. Speaking to mediapersons after a luncheon meeting with petroleum minister Mani Shanker Aiyar, Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said that proposals relating to cooperation in the energy sector may be discussed between the oil ministers of the two countries. New Delhi has suggested that it could meet the entire requirement of Pakistan by laying a pipeline from Jalandhar to Lahore. Pakistan imports about 4.5 million tonnes diesel every year from Kuwait and other countries in West Asia. On the political front, India and Pakistan sharply differed on Jammu and Kashmir and cross-border terrorism but agreed to continue the ceasefire, negotiate conventional and nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) and carry forward the composite dialogue process. At the end of an hour-long meeting at the end of the two-day talks with his Pakistan counterpart, external affairs minister K Natwar Singh said “differences” in perceptions persisted and India’s serious concerns on cross-border infiltration remained. At a joint press conference, Mr Kasuri spoke of the centrality of the Kashmir issue and the “human rights situation” in the border state. He said the Kashmir issue continued to be a cause of tension, and had resulted in three wars in the past and had to be resolved for durable peace in South Asia, informs Indian Express. According to the Tribune, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today shot down Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri’s proposal for having a China-type institutionalised mechanism of Special Representatives-level talks for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The government’s decision was conveyed by the Prime Minister to Mr Kasuri who called on him at 7, Race Course Road this evening. While the two sides today agreed to set up a technical-level team for Munabao (India) Khokhrapar (Pakistan) rail link, the technical team for starting a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad is likely to be announced on September 8 at the end of Mr Kasuri’s five-day India visit. Dr Manmohan Singh also conveyed a firm message to Kasuri during their 30-minute meeting on the need to end cross border terrorism and that Islamabad should stick to its commitment of January 6, 2004 which categorically said no territory under Pakistan’s control would be allowed to be used for fanning terrorism against India. Top sources told The Tribune that the Prime Minister told Mr Kasuri that the existing mechanism of Composite Dialogue process comprising eight sub-groups, which include Peace and Security, was good enough. Dr Manmohan Singh told Mr Kasuri that there should be optimum utilisation of the existing mechanism and if there were ever to be a need at some stage to think afresh, the Government of India would be willing to discuss that. Pakistan had suggested that the two countries should appoint political pointmen on the Kashmir dispute to expedite its resolution, much in the same vein as India and China had recently set up a Special Representatives-level talks on the boundary dispute. Sources said the Pakistani suggestion was untenable and unacceptable to India because doing so would tantamount to recognition of Kashmir as being the “only issue” between the two countries. New Delhi’s stand is that way back in 1998 the two countries had, by mutual consent, identified eight issues which needed to be addressed and all eight issues were equally important. India and Pakistan stuck to their guns on the Kashmir issue as the foreign ministers of the two countries concluded their talks yesterday on what was described as a “positive note.” Addressing a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, Indian Foreign Minister K. Natwar Singh said that some progress was made during their talks. “Even modest progress is worthy of respect,” Natwar said. “We have made progress in the past two days. My friend, Foreign Minister Kasuri, and I have established rapport and mutual trust.” However, Natwar said: “Cross-border terrorism remains a serious concern and I have reiterated that concern to Mr. Kasuri.” He said the current cease-fire on the Kashmir border had helped improve relations. “The first round of composite dialogue has concluded successfully.” Kasuri said though Islamabad was ready to talk on all issues between the two countries, Kashmir was Pakistan’s primary concern. “Of course, he (Natwar) expressed his concerns and I expressed mine”, publishes Arab News.

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