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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

PM would rather stand by Sharif

Jayanth Jacob and Harinder Baweja , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 08, 2013
First Published: 01:27 IST(8/8/2013) | Last Updated: 01:30 IST(8/8/2013)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen to go ahead with the Indo-Pak dialogue and meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York in September-end on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.

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Despite the Opposition’s ‘there should be no talks’ stance, Singh, according to a UPA minister, feels it is important to stand by Sharif, who too has been a victim of the Pakistani army that sent him into exile for eight years.

“The Prime Minister believes this is the time to strengthen the hands of the civilian government led by Sharif,’’ the minister told HT.

The two countries are set to resume the process next month that went into a deep freeze in January this year after the killing of two Indian soldiers, of which one was beheaded.

“Talks should continue. When the BJP government was in power, didn’t they talk to Pakistan (Musharraf) in Agra and Lahore,” Congress spokesperson PC Chacko said.

“It is not through war we are going to solve the problems, but through discussion and dialogue. So, the Indian PM and Pakistan PM will be meeting (in New York),” he further said.

The government too seems to believe talks are the only solution. “We tried the option of not talking to Pakistan. But rarely can you exercise the option of not talking to a neighbour”, said a senior official.

Pakistan has proposed two sets of dates for talks on the issues of water and Sir Creek (a 96 km strip of water disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch) and India had confirmed the same.

India is supposed to host talks under three heads: Siachen, home secretary-level and the talks between the two foreign secretaries on peace and security and J&K and friendly exchanges.

The Opposition is pressurising the government to call off the dialogue but sources indicate it may happen only if the Congress prevails on the PM to do so.


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