Britain welcomes India, Pakistan talks at Thimphu

Britain on Friday welcomed the outcome of talks between the leaders of India and Pakistan, saying dialogue and rapprochement between the two countries was incredibly important.

London: Britain on Friday welcomed the outcome
of talks between the leaders of India and Pakistan, saying
dialogue and rapprochement between the two countries was
incredibly important.

"I believe dialogue and rapprochement between India and
Pakistan is incredibly important. But it needs to be led by
India and Pakistan and can not be imposed from outside,"
Foreign Secretary David Miliband told members of the Indian
Journalists Association here on Friday.

Noting that normalisation of relations between India and
Pakistan would benefit the two countries both economically and
security wise, Miliband said "we want the dialogue to be
established and the meeting happening is a good thing".
He said he had made it clear to Pakistan on a recent
visit that if it was going to win the confidence of Indians,
it has to tackle the terror and bring to justice those linked
to deadly attacks in Mumbai.

Miliband`s comments come a day after Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani took
the first cautious steps towards serious re-engagement in
Thimphu by asking their respective foreign ministers to meet.

Miliband said: "I am, as a politician, had gone to
Pakistan and told them you have to move further and faster in
tackling this domestic terror and its links abroad. I believe
it is important to talk frankly".

Describing Britain`s relations with India as "better than
ever," Miliband said it is genuine partnership of equals, a
partnership based on culture, history and politics. He also
described India`s democracy is "a shining example all over the

He said: "relationship between Prime Minister Gordon
Brown and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are remarkably close -
a relationship of shared values, shared priorities and shared
experience and also shared working together over a long

He said the two countries have a "very close bilateral
In "multi-national arena, whether in Commonwealth or
United Nations fora, we have a lot of work to do together. We
are not always exactly the same".

Answering questions, Miliband said Britain would be a
powerful partner of India under a Labour government.

"My generation do feel that India is a success story from
which we can learn - a success story with which we can
cooperate," he said.

Recalling his visit to India, Miliband said he had
established a close relationship with Congress leader Rahul
Gandhi and "is still in touch with him".

Describing Gandhi as "certainly a rising star", Miliband
said: "We have been in touch. He wants to use the forces of
democracy to help propel the country forward".

Miliband said that Britain had all along supported
India`s role in the development of Afghanistan.

Answering a question, he said "I didn`t talk about good
Taliban or bad Taliban. A significant part of insurgency is
not linked to Al Queda".
He pointed out that several communal and local disputes
are taken advantage of by Talibans.

"The project of reintegration - political engagement at
local levels and strategic political engagement - is important
and should be supported very very strongly.

"The purpose of military effort and development effort of
which India is a significant part, is to create a condition
for political settlement because Afghanistan is not going to
be conquered or occupied," he said.

He said a political settlement can be achieved with
strong engagement to enable Afghanistan`s defences to be able
to withstand any continuing insurgency.

He said "95 per cent of Afghan people don`t want Taliban
back. They remember Taliban`s misrule and hate it".

He also took time to refer to the third and final
television debate between leaders of Britain`s three major

Miliband asserted that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had
won the argument, though he might have lagged behind in style.

"The Prime Minister won the argument but never set out to
win the style... Argument matters," he said of the debate.

He said the Labour party`s position was "clearer and
fairer" on immigration. "It is clearer because of point-based
system. While students are welcome, there is no room for
unskilled to enter Britain," he said.

Miliband said the Tories and the Liberal Democrats were
not clear on their stand on immigration. "They want a cap on
immigration while Lib Dems want amnesty for illegal immigrants
which is dangerous".


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