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Musharraf reply with Mbeki

New Delhi, Oct. 16: India responded to Pakistan’s raking up of the Kashmir issue at the Organisation of Islamic Conference in Malaysia today by getting South Africa to join it in condemning terror.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told the OIC summit today that the “plight” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir was a “core Islamic cause” and sought to portray terrorism in the region as a just freedom struggle.

But India managed to get South Africa into its corner, getting the country to describe terrorism as a “grave violation of human rights and a crime against humanity” after making it clear that “no cause or pretext can justify it”.

Visiting South African President Thabo Mbeki joined Atal Bihari Vajpayee in saying that the international campaign against terror had to be “global, comprehensive and sustained, with the ultimate objective of its total eradication from the world.

“It is essential that every state be made to refrain from organising, instigating, assisting, training or participating in terrorist acts in another state or acquiescing in organised activities within its territories directed towards the commission of such acts,” the leaders added.

South Africa and India also acknowledged the “vital importance of the UN in promoting world peace, world stability and development.”

They said they would continue efforts to strengthen the UN system as “the central mechanism for ensuring international peace and security as well as democratising international relations.”

Their comments on the UN are especially significant in the light of today’s unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council resolution calling on nations to support the US-led occupation of Iraq with troops and money.

A joint statement issued by the countries after detailed delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House here said: “Action within the ambit of the UN system should be taken against those states, entities and individuals who support, finance, harbour or abet terrorists or provide them shelter, safe havens or asylum to engage in any acts of terrorism.”

Mbeki, who arrived here yesterday, held wide-ranging talks with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister and his deputy, L.K. Advani. They discussed issues of bilateral, regional and international importance.

Kalam hosted a banquet in honour of Mbeki, who is leaving tomorrow for Hyderabad, and will also visit Mumbai during the course of his five-day visit which aims at deepening cooperation in trade and information technology.

The two sides signed four agreements today, including an extradition treaty. They also agreed to extend mutual legal assistance, enhance economic cooperation and hold cultural exchange programmes.

South Africa and India, together with Brazil, championed the interests of developing countries at the recent fifth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation at Cancun, eventually leading to the collapse of the talks.

During their meeting this evening, Mbkei and Vajpayee stressed on the need to maintain the “unity of Cancun”. The leaders agreed that “globalisation must not perpetuate existing inequalities” and called on northern and southern hemisphere nations to continue their dialogue towards establishing a more “equitable global economic environment”.

Both sides felt they must urgently strengthen and diversify trade and economic ties so that it keeps apace with their close political relationship. India and South Africa are determined to double their current bilateral trade worth $1 billion by year-end.

Mbeki hoped they would be able to flesh out a free trade agreement between India and the Southern African Customs Union by the end of next year.

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