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Kasab's confession won't set back peace process: Pak Minister

world Updated: Jul 25, 2009 20:37 IST

The stunning confessions of the lone surviving gunman in the bloody Mumbai attacks will not set back the peace process between arch-rivals Pakistan and India, Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday.

The unexpected confession of Ajmal Kasab this week, which detailed training camps and safe houses across Pakistan, bolsters India's charges that Islamabad is not doing enough to clamp down on terrorist groups.

The three-day siege of India's financial capital in November left 166 dead and severely strained relations between the nuclear-armed enemies. Peace talks that began in 2004 were put on hold.

"Certainly that was a hiccup," said Qureshi of the Mumbai attacks. "We are overcoming that because both sides believe this is a common challenge. The only way forward is engagement with each other. So I think we will be back on track soon."

India appears more cautious. After meeting Pakistan's president last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India was again ready to talk peace but cautioned that relations remain "under considerable stress" and progress would be slow with each step forward dependent on Islamabad's willingness to take on anti-India militants.

Qureshi told AP that Islamabad was waiting for copies of the Kasab's confessions from the Indian court, but said the issue would not impede the dialogue effort.

The foreign minister was speaking on the sidelines of the annual ASEAN Regional Forum, a gathering of ministers and senior officials from Asia, Europe, the US and Russia.

Washington is represented by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Thailand after high-level talks in India, during which the two nations agreed to expand US defense and civilian nuclear sales.

Qureshi said Pakistan was not concerned about closer ties between Washington and Delhi.

"We have a very independent relationship with the United States. If India gets closer to the United States it will not affect us because we have been allies for 60 years. India is shifting its policy. Pakistan has been consistent," he said.