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Delhi cool to Pak’s Simla feelers

New Delhi, Nov. 17: India was unenthusiastic about Pakistan’s willingness today to hold talks on Kashmir under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration and iterated that Delhi would not return to the talks table unless the Pervez Musharraf regime took concrete steps to stop cross-border terrorism.

India and Pakistan have decided to begin talks on restoring civil aviation links between December 1 and 2 in Delhi. But India has made it clear that it would take a decision on talks to restart rail links only after negotiations on civil aviation links, including overflight facilities, are successfully concluded.

India said Pakistan had not shown any progress in stopping cross-border-terrorism and Delhi’s stand indicates that, though it is keen to normalise relations, it would not rush to the talks table till the Musharraf regime dismantles the terror apparatus.

Political-level dialogue between India and Pakistan has been stalled since the Agra summit of 2001 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had invited President Musharraf for talks on all outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

But since India indicated its willingness to attend the Saarc summit in Islamabad between January 4 and 6, Pakistan has sent several feelers indicating its eagerness to restart dialogue. Delhi has so far, however, maintained that though Vajpayee would travel to Islamabad for the Saarc summit, he has no plans of holding bilateral meetings with any Pakistani leader.

Vajpayee had in recent interviews to Syrian newspapers said Kashmir should be solved bilaterally between India and Pakistan under the Simla Agreement. Khan today referred to Vajpayee’s remarks while saying that Islamabad has “no problem with it either”.

“Vajpayee said the Simla Agreement is valid. We would like to say that we are ready to talk to India under the Simla Agreement. India is using dilatory tactics to deny that there is a dispute,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan was quoted by agencies as having said in Islamabad today.

“It can be Simla, bilateral negotiations, Pakistan is ready to talk to India. We do not have any problems there (with UN resolutions or Simla Agreement). The problem is that India is not ready for talks with Pakistan,” agencies quoted Khan as saying.

Officials in Delhi made it clear that India was not interested in the Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman’s remarks indicating Islamabad’s willingness to start talks under the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration.

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