Qureshi indicates India changed mind on meeting in New York

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared to suggest that India had changed its mind on the meeting though he was willing to meet "anywhere, anythime".

Last Updated: Sep 29, 2010, 10:21 AM IST

New York: Amid talk over why the Indo-Pak
bilateral did not work out on sidelines on the UNGA, Pakistan
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared to suggest that
India had changed its mind on the meeting though he was
willing to meet "anywhere, anythime".

"I have said that I was willing to meet them anywhere,
anytime," he told journalists last evening before leaving for
Washington, but did not explicitly blame New Delhi.

"I have told them that I am willing to come wherever
they want me to come," he said, asking the questioning
journalists to find out the reason.

Qureshi further said that he had even invited External
Affairs Minister S M Krishna to tea at the Roosevelt hotel
where he was staying.

"If you have problems coming to Roosevelt, I will come
to you," he said, noting that India had first expressed
interest in talking to Pakistan.

"So why isn`t this happening... it is for you
(reporters) to find out... there was no lack of interest on
our part," he said.

A bilateral meeting between the two ministers was
widely anticipated on the sidelines of the opening session of
the General Assembly, which the two ministers have been
attending since last week.

While no specific date had been confirmed, diplomats
from both sides had indicated that such a meeting was being
negotiated.

However, Krishna yesterday gave a clear indication
that such talks would not be possible during this trip.
"Well it is not on the cards," he told the media,
after delivering a speech at the Asia Society.

During the speech, Krishna blasted Qureshi for raising
the issue of Kashmir at various public forums during the
course of his stay, including the annual debate at the General
Assembly.

He also suggested that by raising the pitch on
Kashmir, Pakistan was trying to deflect attention away from
the problems in its own backyard, and said the remarks were
"unsolicited and untenable".

"It is with a sense of genuine disappointment that I
react to the unacceptable references to the Indian state of
Jammu and Kashmir made by Foreign Minister Qureshi in his
address at the UN," Krishna said.

Speaking at the UN, Qureshi had raised the issue of
the "right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people" and a
"plebiscite under the UN auspices".

Qureshi responded to Krishna`s remarks by insisting
that both nations had their set of problems but this did not
preclude Islamabad from voicing their concerns about Kashmir,
which was recognised as an international dispute.

"Pakistan has its own problems, India has its own
problems... I have not brought the Kashmir issue into
limelight-- the people of Kashmir have," he said.

Despite talks in New York not working out, both
ministers have expressed optimism about Qureshi`s visit to New
Delhi, which will pick up the threads from Krishna`s last
visit to Islamabad.

"I have said in my speech that I have invited Foreign
Minister Qureshi to come to India and he has very graciously
accepted my invitation," Krishna said.

"I am looking forward to his visit to India so that we
can take up from where he left in Islamabad".

However, Qureshi noted that Pakistan wanted all issues
to be discussed during talks, which he said differed from
India`s approach of "graduated" talks that would focus on
Mumbai attacks and terrorism and then explore other issues
like Kashmir.

The Indian side has spoken in favour of a graduated
approach but at the same time indicated that "all outstanding
issues" including Kashmir will be discussed during talks.

"We thought that a step by step approach, a graduated
approach was the one which would take us all to agreement on
the core issues but unfortunately that has not happened,"
Krishna said.

Both ministers have hailed their previous talks in
Islamabad as productive.

Krishna, however, noted that after the Islamabad talks
India wanted to go public with some of the humanitarian issues
on which some progress had been made but Islamabad was not
ready.

"But Qureshi felt that some of the core issues will
have to be discussed and then resolved... as you know these
core issues cannot be discussed in five hours," the minister
said, noting that India`s suggestion -- made with the best of
intention and not to score points over Pakistan was
eventually shelved leaving most people to think that the talks
had failed.

PTI