Tags: Pakistan | Accepts | India's | Talks | Offer

Pakistan Accepts India's Talks Offer

Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM

Musharraf's reply to Vajpayee's offer, in which Islamabad offered to "overcome legacy of distrust" between the countries, was delivered to the Indian foreign secretary in New Delhi.

"I accept your invitation for me and my wife to visit India, with great pleasure," Musharraf wrote in his reply.

Earlier, Musharraf told British Broadcasting Corp. that the summit could take place anytime after June 20.

Reacting to India's surprise invitation, the Pakistani leader said, "I would give credit to Prime Minister Vajpayee for his statesmanship, and his vision and his courage and boldness towards accepting a reality and starting to address an issue which has bedeviled relations between our two countries."

Musharraf said he was open to discussing other issues as well, though he considered Kashmir to be at the core of talks with India.

"I am very flexible. I've been saying that the core issue is Kashmir, and let there be no doubt in that. But there are other issues also, and I have no problems in discussing the other issues as well," he said.

Vajpayee said that India's offer of talks to Pakistan should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness but rather as a demonstration of India's self-confidence.

The Indian premier, vacationing at the hill resort of Manali, said that separatist rebels should meet the government-appointed negotiator on Kashmir, K.C. Pant, who is currently traveling in the Himalayan valley. Pant on Tuesday met pro-independence leader Shabir Shah who is chief of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party.

Direct bilateral dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad has been frozen for more than two years since the countries fought a bitter border conflict in Kashmir's Kargil region in 1999. Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state, has been a site of a separatist insurgency since 1989 in which more than 36,000 people have been killed. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the Himalayan region.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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Musharraf's reply to Vajpayee's offer, in which Islamabad offered to overcome legacy of distrust between the countries, was delivered to the Indian foreign secretary in New Delhi. I accept your invitation for me and my wife to visit India, with great pleasure, ...
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Tuesday, 29 May 2001 12:00 AM
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