F.Secretary level dialogue expected to resume in Delhi by end of March: Sartaj Aziz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP) :Pakistan and Indian Foreign Secretaries are expected to resume their dialogue in New Delhi by the end of March, said Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz here Wednesday. He said this while talking to reporters after addressing a press conference along with visiting Austrian Secretary of State Dr. Benita Ferrero Waldner here. Both sides had put off their Foreign Secretary level talks in third week of the current month in view of Indian Prime Minister's Atal Behari Vajpayee's 2-day visit to Pakistan on Feb. 20. To a query, Aziz said, the Foreign Ministers of the two countries could meet afterwards to review the progress made at the Foreign Secretary level.

Kashmiris' struggle, Pak nuclear explosions forced India to accept Kashmir as core issue: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP) :Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said Wednesday that the relentless struggle of Kashmiris for their right to self-determination and Pakistan's tit-for-tat nuclear tests have forced Indian leadership to accept Kashmir as the core issue, straining relations between Islamabad and New Delhi. "Now India has fully realized that without just settlement of Kashmir dispute, relations cannot be improved which is evident from the fact that Indian Prime Minister referred to Kashmir dispute on several occasions during his visit," he said in PTV's programme `Sawairey Sawairey' conducted by Khalil Malik. The Foreign Minister said, "this is for the first time since several years that India has accepted Kashmir as a core issue and indicated for holding constructive dialogue on this dispute." He said, "Pakistan has sent a clear message to India during this visit that there cannot be normalisation of relations between the two countries unless there is a positive progress on Kashmir issue, adding, in this context the Indian Prime Minister's visit has been a success for us as he accepted the need of resolving this issue."

Austria urges Pakistan to sign CTBT:

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP) :Austria Wednesday called on Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as early as possible. "Austria as host to CTBT and the organization there, appeals and wait to see Pakistan sign CTBT as quickly as possible," Austrian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Benita Ferroro Waldner told a press conference. She added,"it will be a positive step towards mitigation of tensions in the region." She said Austria, being a member of the European Union, strongly welcomes the recent talks between Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India and the Lahore Declaration issued after the summit meeting. "It is a positive symbol, of may be a long process of coming together of these two countries," she added. When asked about Vienna's position on Kashmir issue, the Austrian official said her country has always felt that there have to be negotiations between the two sides. "This (dialogue) is absolutely indispensable." Responding to a question on gross human rights violations of Kashmiri people in Indian held Kashmir and recent excesses by Hindu fanatics against India's Christian community, she said,"humanrights are indivisible, general and universal." Dr. Waldner, whose country held the presidency of European Union last year, said Austria and EU have always strongly condemned humanrights violations wherever they took place. "This is universal right that applies to Muslims, Hindus, Christians and all," she added.

Pakistan urges India to thinout troops in held Kashmir

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP): Pakistan on Wednesday urged India to reduce troops concentration in held Kashmir and allow Kashmiri leadership to visit Pakistan as part of the confidence building measures (CBMs) towards normalization of ties between the two countries. "The CBMs being undertaken by Pakistan and India will not be complete unless similar measures are taken in held Kashmir like thinning out of troops, reduction of repression and permission to leaders of All Parties Hurriyat Conference to visit Pakistan," Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told reporters at Foreign Office. "I hope India will respond to it," he said. Aziz said India has accepted the reality that solution of Kashmir issue is vital for the normalization of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad. "It is for the first time that India has shown willingness to discuss Kashmir issue," he said in reference to the various statements by Indian Prime Minister Atal behari Vajpayee during his recent visit to Lahore. The international community was also keen to see peace and security in the region after their nuclear tests last May, he said.

Signing of NPT not under debate : Sartaj Aziz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP) :Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has said that the signing of Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is not under debate because it recognizes only five countries as nuclear powerS. "There is no question of it because we cannot join NPT as a non-nuclear power and in the present shape of NPT, only five countries are nuclear powers and they do not accept others", he said in a telephonic interview with Voice of America (VOA). "Therefore, either they amend the treaty and allow us entry as nuclear power, then we may join. But the signing of NPT is not under debate as yet", he added. To a question that till when Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is expected to be signed, the Foreign Minister said, "Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised in UN General Assembly for September provided the atmosphere is improved so we have the same timetable for the time being".

Sartaj terms Vajpayee's visit a positive step

ISLAMABAD, Feb 25 (APP): Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz has described Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan a," positive step." "It was being said since long that India-Pakistan relations should be improved so that the arms race is halted", he said in a telephonic interview with Voice Of America VOA. The Foreign Minister said, "India also agreed with the our point of view that relations could not be improved till Kashmir issue was not resolved". Sartaj said, it is for the first time that India has accepted the extent rather Vajpayee gave statement before and after his arrival here that Kashmir was critical issue and it affected the content and contour of the relationship between the two countries. "Since, the Indian Prime Minister came here for the first time in a decade, obviously it was hoped that this issue would be discussed seriously now". He said, the situation so far has been that they maintained that Kashmir was part of India and no discussion could be held on it. "Now they have agreed on talks and it is expected that talks on Kashmir would not be merely for sake of talks, and it would be serious and if it happened, other matters would also make headway and relations will improve". To a question, Sartaj Aziz said, "the Prime Minister had also held talks with Kashmiris and it openly emerged that talks be held on the issue and it is good if it is discussed at so higher level. So all agreed with it".

Indo-Pak bilaterial talks held to resolve the core issue of Kahsmir-Mushahid

KARACHI, Feb 25 (APP) :Federal Minister for Information and Media Development, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, has said that bilateral talks between Pakistan and India have been initiated to resolve the core issue of Kashmir and it was in this context that for the first time dialogues between the two countries have been iniatied on issues rather than non-issues. Addressing a press conference at Karachi airport on arrival here from Islamabad on way to Dubai in connection with the launching of PTV's Middle East Channel on Thursday, Mushahid Hussain made it clear that relations between Paistan and India will not make any progress without talks on the issue of Kashmir. The Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, himself stated that talks are being held to produce results, he said adding Pakistan has described Kashmir as a core issue and this stand of ours has been recognised by India. The Information Minister pointed out that a substantive change has come in the regional situation since May 28, 1998 nuclear test by India followed by a reply test by Pakistan which led to the emergence of a new balance of power bringing Pakistan and India at par to each other. He said the visit of Indian Prime Minister has strengthened Pakistan's new status emerging after May 28, 1998.