The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Denmark salve for Vajpayee after rift show

Copenhagen, Oct. 11: India and Denmark today tried to kiss and make up after the spat yesterday over Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s refusal to take into account Indian sensibilities on cross-border terrorism being sponsored by Pakistan.

Rasmussen had been abrasive while offering advice on the need for an Indo-Pak dialogue and ignoring the successful completion of elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

At the end of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to Denmark today, however, Rasmussen welcomed the conclusion of polls in the Valley and said “cross-border infiltration and cross-border terrorism” sponsored by Pakistan was “completely unacceptable”. He argued: “Stronger Pakistani efforts to put an end to cross-border terrorism would facilitate a positive dialogue”.

He went on to assure India that “the European Union as well as Denmark would continue to put pressure on Pakistan to do its utmost to stop cross-border terrorism”.

But at the same time, Rasmussen did not entirely buy the Indian position that a dialogue could begin only after cross-border terrorism ended. He accepted that ending cross-border infiltration and terrorism was “of vital importance to create a positive climate for a fruitful dialogue”. But, he said, the terrorists must not be provided with “a right to veto a peaceful dialogue”.

Yet it was evident that there had been an overnight change in the appreciation of Indian sensibilities. This was welcomed by foreign minister Yashwant Sinha. He said that after yesterday’s events, Indian diplomats had worked at various levels with the EU and Denmark to sensitise them to the Indian position.

Sinha said both Javier Solanas, EU high representative who is in effect the foreign minister of the Union, and Chris Patten, its commissioner for external relations, had privately expressed unhappiness at what had transpired yesterday. Both apparently wanted some immediate damage control.

Sinha briefed Rasmussen on the history and evolution of the Kashmir issue. “All this had an impact on them (the Danes) and, therefore, they were more forthcoming in appreciating the Indian position today,” he said.

The net result was that Denmark today not only accepted that cross-border terrorism did not create a conducive atmosphere for a dialogue with Pakistan, it also went some way to appreciate the conclusion of a free and fair elections in Kashmir.

Rasmussen, therefore, at a joint press conference today, said both the EU and Denmark were “strongly against terrorism and we strongly condemn terrorism”. He said Denmark recognised that India was a victim of terrorism and that it was understandable that “people did not feel confident about a dialogue that is accompanied by terrorist acts and cross-border infiltration”.

Rasmussen said that while the Kashmir election would indeed be “the starting point for a forward looking and inclusive dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir”, the EU and Denmark were “concerned about tensions between India and Pakistan and wish to see a process of de-escalation”. He urged that tensions must be lowered and insisted that “dialogue is the only way forward towards a closer understanding”.

Vajpayee said he felt under no pressure to start a dialogue with Pakistan. “We have been told repeatedly that pressure is being put on Pakistan to stop cross-border terrorism. That will create the way for a dialogue. We have requested our Danish friends to put some more pressure to bring round the people of Pakistan, particularly their leaders.”

The Indian Prime Minister in a statement reaffirmed that India and Denmark “share the view that terrorism anywhere and in any form must be rooted out completely” and that both were committed to countering “this grave threat to open, democratic can multi-cultural societies such as ours”.

India and Denmark also identified several potential areas of cooperation including information technology, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, food processing and non-conventional energy sources.

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