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Press Statement by the Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs on India- Pakistan Relations

New Delhi
May 07, 2003

Shri Navtej Sarna: Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen.

We have an announcement and a statement. The text of both will be made available to you.

The announcement, Shri Pripuran Singh Haer, currently Ambassador of India to Iran, has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to Mauritius, in succession to Shri Vijay Kumar. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.

The statement: We have seen the response and specific suggestions made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the context of SAARC and India-Pakistan relations.

In order to take forward the initiative of our Prime Minister, we have today sought Agre’ment for the appointment of the new Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad.

We welcome the agreement conveyed by the Pakistan Prime Minister to resumption of civil aviation links. Our understanding is that such links would include direct air services and over-flights. We have sought a specific confirmation form Pakistan in this regard. Pakistani authorities have indicated that this issue could be discussed further between the civil aviation authorities of the two countries.

We also welcome the humanitarian gesture announced by the Pakistan PM for release of Indian fishermen, 22 Sikh youth and crewmembers of the Indian cargo boat ‘Raj Laxmi’.

The Pakistan Prime Minister has made several other suggestions on diplomatic representation, resumption of road and rail link, sport contracts, etc. These measures can be considered in due course as we see progress on the steps announced by our PM, and there is evidence of Pakistan taking firm and credible action against cross border terrorism and to dismantle the infrastructure of support to terrorism.

The SAARC related trade proposals are clearly inadequate in the context of the mandate of the SAARC Kathmandu Summit. We have repeatedly made it clear that the substantive progress on trade and economic cooperation should take place to make the next Summit meaningful.

We remain committed to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally, as provided for in the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration. Prime Minister, in his statement to the Parliament on May 2, had made it clear that a sustained dialogue would necessarily require an end to cross border terrorism and the dismantling of its infrastructure. Discussion on nuclear and other CBMs can be held in the context of the Composite Dialogue, which has the specific agenda item of ‘Peace and Security including CBMs’.

We welcome the fact that Pakistan has responded to the initiatives of our Prime Minister. It is quite clear that several specific steps would need to be taken by Pakistan to move this process meaningfully forward. We, on our part, remain fully committed to improving relations between the two countries.

For more information, contact:
Sunil Lal, Counsellor (Press & Information) at (202) 939-7042