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Continue talks, Ban tells India, Pakistan

Aarti Dhar

U.N. Secretary-General rules out withdrawal of U.N. observer mission in both nations

— Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his wife Ban Soon-taek pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial in New Delhi on Friday.

NEW DELHI: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday said both India and Pakistan should continue their composite dialogue to maintain peace in the subcontinent. He, however, ruled out withdrawal of the U.N. observer mission in both countries and hoped that it would be able to carry out its mandated activities successfully.

“India and Pakistan are two important countries in the subcontinent and they should continue to improve their relations through dialogue and cooperation,” he told a press conference here at the conclusion of his two-day visit to India.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan, Mr. Ban said the neighbouring countries and the global community should help the country create a secure atmosphere and have social-economic development.

Recalling his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Ban said Dr. Singh was “very much committed” to continuing dialogue and improving relations with Islamabad.

Describing as “encouraging developments,” the recent opening of trade routes between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Ban hoped that the dialogue would continue and give positive results.

To a question on U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, Mr. Ban said he had made fresh appointments to the mission and expressed the hope that it would continue to carry out its mandated activities successfully.

Mr. Ban, who was on a two-day visit to India, held detailed discussions with President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on a variety of issues.

Appreciating India’s achievements as member of the United Nations, Mr. Ban said he was impressed by India’s achievements to become “a leading voice in the developing world, as a long-established democracy and as a growing economic power.”

“I particularly appreciate India’s contribution to the U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world,” he said noting that New Delhi had more than 8,000 military personnel at global hotspots, making it the third largest troop contributor. “This country’s contribution has helped to make our peacekeeping operations more effective in some of the world’s toughest places, from the former Yugoslavia a decade ago to the Democratic Republic of Congo now.”

Pointing out that the situation in Myanmar figured prominently in his talks with Dr. Singh, Mr. Ban said New Delhi had been “actively and very constructively” contributing to the democratisation process in Myanmar.

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