Krishna, Qureshi pitch for talks

India and Pakistan have underlined that despite their differences they have "no other alternatives" but to engage in dialogue, ahead of a possible bilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries here.

New York: India and Pakistan have
underlined that despite their differences they have "no other
alternatives" but to engage in dialogue, ahead of a possible
bilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the two
countries here.

"Today there is a realisation that a negotiated
solution is the only sensible way," said Pakistan Foreign
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, stressing his support for the
Composite Dialogue at the Asia Society here yesterday.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said India wants
to engage Pakistan in talks as it is the only way forward.

"India wants to keep Pakistan engaged in talks because
we do not see any other alternatives....talks are the only way
to take this forward," he told the Indian media at a reception
he hosted at the Indian Mission to the United Nations
yesterday.

At this stage, Indian diplomats have not confirmed any
bilateral meeting between the two ministers here on the
sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, but a senior
Pakistani diplomat claimed that a meeting had been cleared by
both ministries and was expected to take place early next
week.

Krishna, who arrived here for the UN General Assembly
session, will be in New York till September 29 while Qureshi
is here till September 30.

Pakistan`s foreign minister stressed that people in
India and Pakistan wanted peace, and both countries were
losing out if the hostility persisted.

"There are large sections of people on either side of
the border that feel normalisation makes sense, they feel that
there is a peace dividend that we are being deprived of, they
feel there is a lot of potential of bilateral trade," Qureshi
said.

"We are not trading directly but we are trading
through third parties...we are getting those goods at an
expensive price and someone else is benefiting," he said at
the New York-based think tank.

Noting that the Mumbai attacks were a big setback for
the incremental gains achieved in the Composite Dialogue,
Qureshi reiterated that New Delhi should have kept the
dialogue going after the 26/11 terrorist attack.

"Things were gelling very well and then Mumbai
happened...Mumbai was a setback...it was huge setback for
normalization," the Pakistani leader said.

"If we disengage we are playing into the hands of
those very elements that want disengagement...the message they
get is by one incident they can turn the process back," he
added.

India, however, maintains that normal talks can only
resume after Islamabad cracks down on all the 26/11 terrorists
that came from Pakistan.

PTI

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