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Foreign Ministers' meet in August

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, FEB. 18. The Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan are to meet in August this year to further the dialogue process, announced the Union External Affairs Minister, Yashwant sinha,here on Wednesday.

He said that the three-day Joint Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan had concluded successfully in New Delhi and that the modalities for further talks as well as on further CBMs (Confidence Building Measures) had been decided upon.

Delivering a public lecture on `India's Middle East policy and relations with neighbouring countries' at the invitation of the United Minority Front, Mr. Sinha warned against impatience and haste in the process of peace between the two countries.

He said that in this third attempt at peace with Pakistan "there had been not one false step taken," and that it was due to the considered and measured road map to normalisation of relations that both countries had embarked upon.

Earlier, speakers representing various Muslim bodies and intellectuals appealed to Mr. Sinha to allow Pakistan to open `visa camps' in Hyderabad to help those who had family members in Pakistan. Speakers also spoke about the `step motherly' treatment towards `Gulf NRIs' as compared to `US NRIs'.

They wanted the Government of India to help Gulf NRIs with their children's education as well as investing money when they relocated in India.

Mr. Sinha rejected the contention that Gulf NRIs were considered step children, and said that the Government was working on a policy of providing all help and facilities to them.

Mr. Sinha gave a politically significant speech in the context of the forthcoming elections, and called on the largely Muslim audience to `cast away all misapprehensions' regarding the attitude and policies of the present Government.

Answering the criticisms of "India's recent tilt towards Israel", Mr. Sinha said that India remained committed to Palestinian Statehood, and added that the country's stand remained that Middle East peace was not possible without Israel returning all occupied territories. Despite this, India would not follow a policy of `mutually exclusive friendships' where good relations with one necessarily meant breaking relations with the other.

He elaborated on India's foreign policy in the past five years and argued that it was a continuation of the basic principles of `our foreign policy which grew out of our freedom struggle'.

He said that national interest and national consensus remained the guiding spirit of the foreign policy. He further denied that India was working under pressure of the USA.

On Iraq Mr. Sinha said that India wanted that the people of Iraq should take over the responsibility of governing themselves at the earliest.

He added that the June 20 deadline for transfer of authority should not be extended further.

The Union Minister for Urban Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Bandaru Dattatreya, S.M. Lal Jan Basha, TDP MP, Zafar Javeed, secretary of the reception committee, and other representatives of minority organisations spoke.

The meeting was presided over by the former Chairman of the National Commission on Minorities, Sardar Ali Khan.

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