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Musharraf responsible for failure: Atal

Talks collapsed because Pak President termed violence in J&K as 'freedom battle', reports Shekhar Iyer. Speak up

india Updated: Sep 30, 2006 18:31 IST

Former prime minister AB Vajpayee on Tuesday rejected Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's claims in his book that the Agra summit of 2001 failed because "someone above" them scuttled the talks.

He said the talks failed simply because Musharraf refused to describe the violence in J&K as terrorism.

"In Agra, during our talks, he took the stand that the violence that was taking place in J&K could not be described as terrorism," Vajpayee said.

"He continued to claim that the bloodshed was nothing but the people's battle for freedom. It was this stand of Musharraf that India just could not accept. And this was responsible for the failure of the Agra summit."

Musharraf has claimed in his book, In the Line of Fire, that someone "above" him and Vajpayee had scuttled the talks and humiliated them. However, Vajpayee said no one insulted Musharraf and "certainly no one insulted me".

"Pakistan came to our viewpoint when, in the joint statement of January 2004, it agreed that it will not allow its territory to be used for purposes of terrorism," he said. That was a starting point for the composite dialogue between the two countries.

"Had Musharraf accepted our position in 2001, the Agra summit would have been successful, and the three subsequent years may have proved very valuable to take our initiative forward," Vajpayee said.

The BJP leader said he was yet to read the book but excerpts relating to the Agra summit that had appeared in the media had surprised him.

He said establishing normality in Indo-Pak relations had been a principal item on the NDA government's agenda. "But everyone in our government knew there could be no normality in relations until cross-border terrorism ended," he said.