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Ready to work with Musharraf, says Manmohan Singh

"Pakistan should dismantle terrorist camps"

NEW DELHI: Maintaining that it would be ``unrealistic'' to fix any timeframe for resolving the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday offered to work together with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to find a ``meaningful solution'' to difficult problems.

In an hour-long interaction with foreign journalists based in Delhi, Dr. Singh said he looked forward to his visit to Pakistan.

``I remain firm in my conviction that we must move towards finding constructive solutions to all outstanding issues,'' he said when asked whether Gen. Musharraf's recent statements on greater autonomy, self-governance and international supervision for Jammu and Kashmir were realistic.

He asked Pakistan to honour its commitment to quickly dismantle terrorist camps operating from that country.Observing that he was willing to discuss all issues ``including what President Musharraf calls the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,'' Dr. Singh firmly ruled out further division of the country or redrawing of boundaries.

``I will never accept anything that leads to further division of India on religious lines. I have no mandate to negotiate on redrawing our boundaries. Within these limitations, the two of us must work together to create an environment to take the peace process forward.''

This required a ``new pattern'' of working. A lot could be done by promoting people-to-people contacts. ``There is great scope for moving forward.''

Sri Lankan problem

Dr. Singh said India had a ``very vital stake'' in the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka and expressed the hope that the ethnic problem would be resolved peacefully. ``We are not indifferent'' to what was happening in Sri Lanka, he said in reply to a question on the ``dangerous'' problem arising from the LTTE setting up naval and air bases.

Dr. Singh brushed aside a suggestion that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi was interfering in the functioning of the Government. ``When it comes to the functioning of the Government, I do not think there is any interference of any kind,'' Dr. Singh said.

As chairperson, Ms. Gandhi ``has an important role, together with other members of the coordination committee of the UPA allies. That does not in any way interfere with the working of our Government.''

PTI, UNI

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