Better Ties With India Top Priority of New Pakistani Government:

November 26, 2002
ISLAMABAD -- The top priority of Pakistan's newly elected government will be to improve ties with nuclear rival India, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri was quoted Monday as saying.

"My top priority would be to improve and normalize ties with India and other neighboring countries," Kasuri told the daily **Dawn** in an interview. "We want to improve relations with India and we wish peace and prosperity for the people of India."

Kasuri, who was sworn in on Saturday as the country's 19th foreign minister, said he hoped that the Indian leadership would respond positively to these sentiments, insisting "India has to play a role".

"We are prepared to go half way or may be even a step further in improving relations with India," he said.

Relations between the two countries remain tense over the northern Himalayan state of Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both, AFP reported.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought two of their three wars over kashmir.

Until recently the two countries had kept hundreds of thousands of troops on their shared border following the December 13 attack on the Indian Parliament, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

More than 37,500 people have died in the India-administered zone since the start of the anti-Indian rebellion in Kashmir in 1989.

India, accusing Islamabad of cross-border terrorism, has refused to open dialogue with Pakistan. Islamabad denies India's Allegations.

Stressing the need to resolve the Kashmir dispute, Kasuri told the **Dawn** that any solution to the issue would have to take into account the aspirations of the people of the state.

"The desired objective of solution to the Kashmir dispute can only be achieved through what is acceptable to the Kashmiri people," he said.

eaa0168 3 i 0325 pak /afp-qs07 pakistan-india-fm better ties with india top priority of new pakistani government: islamabad, nov 25 (afp) - the top priority of pakistan's newly elected government will be to improve ties with nuclear rival india, foreign minister khurshid mahmood kasuri was quoted monday as saying.

"my top priority would be to improve and normalize ties with india and other neighbouring countries," kasuri told the daily dawn newspaper in an interview. "we want to improve relations with india and we wish peace and prosperity for the people of india."

kasuri, who was sworn in on saturday as the country's 19th foreign minister, said he hoped that the indian leadership would respond positively to these sentiments, insisting "india has to play a role".

"we are prepared to go half way or may be even a step further in improving relations with india," he said.

relations between the two countries remain tense over the northern himalayan state of kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed by both.

the nuclear armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars over kashmir.

until recently the two countries had kept hundreds of thousands of troops on their shared border following the december 13 attack on the indian parliament, which new delhi blames on pakistan-based militants fighting indian rule in kashmir.

more than 37,500 people have died in the india administered zone since the start of the anti-indian rebellion in kashmir in 1989.

india, accusing islamabad of cross-border terrorism, has refused to open dialogue with pakistan. islamabad denies india's allegations.

stressing the need to resolve the kashmir dispute, kasuri told the dawn that any solution to the issue would have to take into account the aspirations of the people of the state.

"the desired objective of solution to the kashmir dispute can only be achieved through what is acceptable to the kashmiri people," he said.