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'Talks the only way out for India, Pak'

Pakistan on Monday said that the peace process with India is in the interest of the two countries.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2006 20:59 IST

Pakistan on Monday said that the peace process with India is in the interest of the two countries and they have no other option but to pursue it.

"The peace process is in the interest of both the countries and the region. We do not have any other option. This is the only option, we have to talk to each other and to pursue the peace process," Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said at a media briefing.

She was replying to questions about chances of a meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the SAARC Standing Committee meeting in Dhaka, scheduled to be held on July 31. The Foreign Secretary-level talks were postponed in the wake of the Mumbai serial blasts.

"No meeting has been scheduled...The foreign secretaries are there, they will naturally be interacting because the Standing Committee meeting would be proceeded by meeting of Foreign Ministers. So they would be there. I do not know if Indian foreign secretary is coming. Our foreign secretary will be there," she said.

On reports in the Pakistani media speculating that New Delhi could consider chances of "hot pursuit" into the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, she said, "Nobody should make this mistake...Pakistan will not allow hot pursuit into its territory."

She also termed the media reports as "extremely irresponsible". 

"Pakistan wants to pursue the path of peace, wants peace process to resume and is ready to discuss all issues," Aslam said and recalled India massing troops along Pakistan's borders in 2001 (in the wake of attack on Indian Parliament).

"Even then we had to return to the negotiations table and that is the option before us," she said adding, Islamabad was committed to the peace process and would continue to remain so.

About the issue of consular access to civilian prisoners and fishermen, she said Pakistan on its part allowed New Delhi access to those held in Punjab on July 18 and on July 24-25 to those in Karachi.

About Pakistan's diplomatic efforts to resolve the West Asia crisis, she said Pakistan was in contact with Organisation of Islamic Conference leaders, including its Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsangolu, right from the first day of the developments.

She said, "President Pervez Musharraf had a telephonic conversation with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and other world leaders of the OIC countries."

"We have no report of any Pakistani injured during the attack in Lebanon," she said and added that Pakistan's Embassy in Lebanon was open and functioning.

Sixty-nine Pakistanis have been evacuated to Damascus and were staying at Pakistan International School there. They would be brought home by first available flight and the first batch will arrive here on July 26, she said.