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Pak wants 'sustained' talks with India: Sharif

world Updated: Sep 18, 2013 01:50 IST
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Asserting that people had given him the mandate to improve ties with neighbours, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan is keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for the resolution of all issues including Kashmir.

In an interview to a Turkish media network, Sharif said he is committed to a "serious sustained and constructive engagement" with India that must include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Describing the recent tension at the LoC as matter of concern, he said Pakistan will respond to the situation with "restraint and responsibility".

New Delhi is looking forward to Sharif's speech at the UN on September 25 where he is expected to spell out his country's commitment in addressing various concerns of India regarding terrorism and other issues.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to meet Sharif in New York on September 27.

Sharif, who is in Turkey on a three-day official visit, said his government is pursuing a foreign policy of forging stable and cooperative relations with all countries, especially neighbouring countries, to pursue their socio-economic agenda.

"I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region. We are keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for the resolution of all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," Sharif said. I started this process when the then Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee visited Lahore in 1999 and the two sides were very close to finding a negotiated settlement to the Kashmir dispute, he added.

On the issue of negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, Sharif said his government is ready to hold dialogue with those who are ready to shun extremism.

Sharif said that the government has more than one option to deal with terrorists' but shall use force only as a last option to avoid further loss of innocent lives. He said drone strikes by the US not only violated their sovereignty but were counter-productive and caused further radicalization.