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Peace is within reach, says Musharraf

Vaiju Naravane

"Seize opportunity to resolve dispute"


  • Musharraf to hold talks with E.U. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
  • Flexibility, boldness needed to improve dialogue over Kashmir

    Paris: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who is on a four-day visit to Brussels for talks with European Union officials, said on Tuesday that India and Pakistan should seize the opportunity to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue.

    Speaking at a conference on Kashmir at the European Parliament, Gen. Musharraf said he believed that peace was within reach. "I sincerely believe that today opportunity exists and it must be seized to resolve the dispute through peaceful dialogue," he said.

    Gen. Musharraf is scheduled to hold talks with E.U. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Josep Borrell, the president of the European Parliament.

    Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan and India will also figure on the agenda, as well as the possibility that Brussels could increase regional aid to Pakistan after 2007.

    "Conducive environment"

    A "conducive international environment," as well as improved relations between India and Pakistan could help improve dialogue over Kashmir if the two leaders are able to show flexibility and boldness.

    "Leaders who cannot grasp fleeting opportunity are no leaders," he said.

    Gen. Musharraf's remarks came just a few days ahead of his planned meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Havana later this week.

    `Introduce CBMs'

    The best way forward, the President said, would be to introduce confidence-building measures and increase the involvement of Kashmiri leaders before finally arriving at a settlement.

    Praising Dr. Singh as being a man with a "flexible approach" and "a man of sincerity," the Pakistani leader said he hoped Dr. Singh would show the courage needed to resolve the conflict.

    `Pakistan is flexible'

    The talks, the President said, was like a high-stakes poker game and insisted Pakistan was prepared to be flexible "on the way to move forward."

    Responding toDr. Singh's demand that Pakistan take action against militant outfits such as Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba, Gen. Musharraf hinted that he might not be in full control of the situation. "They are trying to kill me," he said.

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