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'Cooperation holds the key to peace'

Members of the Parliamentary delegation listening to the national anthems of India and Pakistan before the start of the South Asian Free Media Conference in Islamabad on Sunday.  

Islamabad Aug. 10. Asserting that "cooperation" and not "confrontation" held the key to solving the problems between India and Pakistan, the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, said today that violence and bloodshed could not provide enduring solutions to the differences between the two countries.

"Violence and bloodshed cannot provide any solutions. We can live together only if we let each other live," he said in a statement read out at a peace conference attended by Indian parliamentarians and journalists here.

"Cooperation rather than confrontation is the answer to our common problems of development and poverty alleviation," he said. Referring to the process of globalisation and the emerging trends of regional and sub-regional economic cooperation, he said India and Pakistan should heed these winds of change.

"We should not defy logic and distort reality to avoid mutually beneficial cooperation. We cannot deny our people their right to peaceful economic cooperation," the statement said on the opening day of the two-day conference organised by the South Asia Free Media Association. Among the Indian delegates at the conference are Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Balbir Singh Punj, Ram Vilas Paswan, Ram Jethmalani and senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar.

Mr. Vajpayee said the meeting and themes for its discussions were a forceful reiteration of the popular desire in the two countries for a normal, peaceful, friendly and cooperative relationship.

He referred to his April 18 speech in Srinagar extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan and said the two peoples at different levels and in their own way had contributed further meaning and content to his overtures. Most of the Indian speakers referred to the militants' infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, describing it as the major cause of bilateral tension. Mr. Yadav, in his inimitable style, said everyone should play his/her part in tearing down the wall of hatred.

The Pakistan National Assembly Speaker, Chaudary Amir Hussain said "the resolution of the Kashmir dispute is vital for peace in South Asia we must strive to move in that direction".

PTI