The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM for peace bridge

Nirmali (Bihar), June 6: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpa- yee today drew a parallel between India-Pakistan ties and a railway bridge he inaugurated here.

“Narrowing the distance, whether with a neighbouring country or a far-flung underdeveloped region of the country” is the key to progress and peace, he told a rally after laying the foundation stone for the Koshi mega railway bridge here in Bihar’s backward Koshi belt.

Efforts for dialogue with Pakistan would no longer drift, Vajpayee said. “I have not given up the peace-talks agenda. Talks must start since there is no use fighting.”

Vajpayee was, however, quick to add that “the sword of terrorism should be lowered to pave the way for peace. Although cross-border terrorist attacks have come down, they must stop”.

Laying down a roadmap for dialogue, he said: “Pakistan should treat us on equal terms. There should be the broad principles of justice, equality and friendship.”

Appearing to ignore hardline views on peace initiatives, Vajpayee said: “We are determined to narrow down the distance… (But) let me make it clear that India has got no place for terrorists. We would not allow people sneaking into the country. However, friends are welcome.”

Chief minister Rabri Devi, defence minister George Fernandes and railway minis- ter Nitish Kumar were also present.

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