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Asia-pacific

India says peace deal awaits action on Mumbai attackers

©

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-16

Meeting at a summit in Egypt, the Pakistani and Indian premiers pledged to cooperate on counter-terrorism, but New Delhi insists broader peace talks will remain stalled until those behind the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai are brought to justice.

AFP - Pakistan and India vowed on Thursday to cooperate in the fight against terror, but New Delhi insisted peace talks remain on hold until the perpetrators of the devastating Mumbai attacks are brought to justice.
   
"Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and cooperate with each other to this end," said a joint statement after the meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Egypt.
   

It was only the second top-level meeting between the nuclear armed neighbours since the November attacks in the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai that cost 166 lives, and raised hopes of a resumption of peace talks.
   
"Prime Minister Singh reiterated the need to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks to justice and Prime Minister Gilani assured that Pakistan will do everything in its power in this regard."
   
The statement described terrorism as the main threat to both countries but said: "Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed."
   
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where more than 50 heads of state of developing nations gathered with the world economic crisis topping the agenda.
   
Soon after the joint statement was issued, however, Singh told journalists in Sharm el-Sheikh that peace talks with Pakistan were still on hold.
   
"A composite dialogue cannot begin unless and until the terrorist attacks that shook Mumbai are accounted for and the perpetrators of these heinous crimes brought to book," Singh said.
   
"The starting point of any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan has to have their commitment not to let their territory be used for terrorist activities against India."
   
"If acts of terrorism continue to be perpetrated, there is no question of a dialogue, let alone a composite dialogue."
   
Relations between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, deteriorated sharply after the Mumbai bombings which New Delhi blamed on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
   
The Mumbai siege left in tatters a fragile peace process launched in 2004 to resolve all outstanding issues of conflict, including a territorial dispute over the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
   
Pakistan has said that it would probably put the five accused of involvement in the attacks on trial this week, including the alleged mastermind Zakiduddin Lakhvi.
   
Thursday's encounter was the first top-level meeting since Singh met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of a summit in Russia last month.
   
On Wednesday, Gilani had expressed optimism that relations between the neighbours were improving.
   
"There has recently been some forward movement in our relations with India," Gilani said. "We hope to sustain this momentum and move towards comprehensive engagement. We believe durable peace in South Asia is achievable."
   
Peace "will be facilitated by the resolution of all outstanding disputes, including Jammu and Kashmir," Gilani said.
   
More than 50 heads of state from the developing world were gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to tackle the fallout from the global economic meltdown, with calls for a "new world order" to prevent a repeat of the crisis.
   
Founded in 1955, the Non-Aligned Movement's 118 member states represent around 56 percent of the global population. NAM states consider themselves not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.
   
The next summit is to be held in 2012 in Tehran.
 

Date created : 2009-07-16

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