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Updated: September 17, 2009 15:00 IST

Pak seeks unconditional talks with India

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Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi: “We want a dialogue (with India) but we are not willing to accept any conditions... We want talks in an open and friendly atmosphere
AP Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi: “We want a dialogue (with India) but we are not willing to accept any conditions... We want talks in an open and friendly atmosphere"

Pakistan on Thursday accused India of mounting propaganda on issues like the Mumbai attacks and said nothing can be achieved by putting “pressure” on it even as it sought unconditional talks to resolve outstanding matters.

“We want a dialogue (with India) but we are not willing to accept any conditions... We want talks in an open and friendly atmosphere. They (India) are mistaken if they think they can achieve anything by putting pressure on Pakistan,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Lahore ahead of his departure for the U.S.

Mr. Qureshi, who is scheduled to meet his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, said India had been issuing statements and taking up issues like terrorism with the world community to “put Pakistan on the defensive.”

Such moves, he claimed, were prompted by India’s “internal political compulsions” but Pakistan will not be affected by them.

In Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing that efforts by India to lobby the U.S. to pressure Pakistan on issues like the Mumbai terror attacks amounted to “anti-Pakistan propaganda.”

“We are confident that this propaganda cannot achieve anything. We are pursuing the Mumbai attacks with all seriousness and sincerity,” he said, adding Pakistan is also continuing its campaign against terror. More Though Mr. Qureshi had said on Wednesday that he is not expecting any “major breakthrough” in his talks with Mr. Krishna in New York, Mr. Basit said Pakistan would approach the meeting with an open mind.

“When we approach the talks with an open mind, there is the possibility of something positive coming out of the meeting,” he said.

He said a date is yet to be set for a proposed meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan.

In response to a question, Mr. Basit said Pakistan would again raise the Kashmir issue at the U.N. General Assembly and a meeting of the Kashmir contact group of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to be held in New York.

“We strongly believe a just and fair settlement of the Kashmir issue is essential for lasting peace in the region. We will again pitch for the issue in New York. We hope our efforts will gather some momentum and get support in the international community,” Mr. Basit said.

Pakistan will “not relent in its efforts to create an environment where we have diplomatic support” to resolve the Kashmir issue, he said.

Mr. Qureshi also said he would take up issues like Kashmir and differences over sharing of rivers waters during his talks with Mr. Krishna.

Replying to a question on whether he would bring up Balochistan issue, Mr. Qureshi said he did not want a debate on the matter in the media.

“This is too sensitive a matter to be discussed like this. Pakistan flagged the issue during the meeting of the Prime Ministers in Sharm el-Sheikh because it was to be taken up. We do not want to carry out diplomacy through the media,” he said.

Mr. Qureshi said India’s decision not to continue efforts to resolve issues like the Kashmir problem through the composite dialogue would have “consequences”, but did not elaborate.

India suspended the composite dialogue in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year. It has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the attacks.

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