'India, Pak. moving step by step towards dialogue'

ISLAMABAD May 22. The Pakistan Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, today said India and Pakistan were moving "step by step" towards dialogue for resolution of all differences between the two countries.

In an informal talk with correspondents in the port city of Karachi after a meeting with exporters Mr. Jamali said steps were being taken by both sides to create the necessary atmosphere to return to the dialogue table. "These things take time and one must have patience."

Asked when the SAARC summit would be held in Pakistan, Mr. Jamali said he was hopeful of the summit of the regional grouping before the year-end. Pakistan postponed the proposed summit in the second week of January on the ground of `non-confirmation' from India.

New Delhi, however, had denied the charge and maintained that the dates had never been finalised. Islamabad recently communicated to the SAARC its readiness to host the summit in the first half of December.

``We are going step by step, moving ahead towards a dialogue with India. We are ready to talk with India on economic, sports and cultural sides. We will maintain our principled stand on the Kashmir issue,'' Mr. Jamali told reporters.

Significantly, on the issue of Pakistan's envoy, Mr. Jamali said Islamabad still had not finalised a choice for the High Commissioner to India.

It appears he has gone back on his announcement that the country's envoy to China, Riaz Mohammed Khan, would assume the post.

``My Foreign Minister (Khursheed M. Kasuri) was abroad, that is why appointment of our High Commissioner to New Delhi could not be decided. Three or four names are under consideration. We will decide soon," Mr. Jamali said.

He had named Riaz Khan, Pakistan's Ambassador to Beijing, as the new envoy to India in an interview to Worldview programme for Doordarshan over the weekend.

But on Monday on his return from a ten-day tour abroad, the Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, insisted that no final decision had been taken on the subject. Conflicting statements have given room to interpretation that there is a tussle within the establishment on the choice of envoy to New Delhi.

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