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Refrain from harsh statements, Singh tells Gilani

Amidst a war of words between India and Pakistan over J&K situation, PM Manmohan Singh asks his Pakistani counterpart that both countries should adhere to the peace process. Special.

world Updated: Aug 15, 2008 22:44 IST

Amidst a war of words between India and Pakistan on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday told his Pakistani counterpart that both countries should adhere to the peace process and refrain from making "harsh statements" against each other.

Singh told Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that "both countries should resolve all bilateral issues, including the Kashmir dispute, through dialogue and adhere to the peace process".

"At times harsh statements emanating from either side cast a shadow over the cordiality of relations between India and Pakistan but the regular contacts at the highest level would help to dispel the uncertainties created by them," Singh told Gilani when the latter called him this evening to congratulate him and the people of India on the occasion of 62nd Independence Day.

Gilani called Singh after receiving a message of felicitation from the Indian leader on Pakistan's Independence Day on Thursday.

A statement issued from Gilani's office quoted Singh as saying that the "the greatest enemies of India and Pakistan are hunger, poverty, ignorance, disease and terrorism and both the countries needed to work together to fight these adversaries".

Singh asked Gilani whether he would be visiting New York for the UN General Assembly so that a meeting could possibly be held between them on the sidelines of the session.

Gilani "welcomed this proposition and assured his Indian counterpart of his government's resolve to work for strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries", the statement said.

Referring to the "very satisfactory meeting" between ruling Pakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi in Beijing on the sidelines of the Olympic Games, Gilani said "such interaction would serve to build bridges between the political leadership of two sides and bring the people of India and Pakistan ever closer to each other".

Singh said "contacts at personal level of leadership would greatly help in building confidence between the true representatives of the two democratically elected governments and in overcoming the misgivings held by two sides about each other".

Over the past few days, India has reacted angrily to repeated comments by Pakistani leaders on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and two parliamentary panels have adopted resolutions asking India to stop "excesses and atrocities" against people in Kashmir.

New Delhi has described Islamabad's statements as a "clear interference" in its internal affairs and asked it to "desist" from such "rhetoric and allegations that are factually wrong".

India has also termed Pakistan's efforts to seek international involvement in its internal affairs in Kashmir as "gratuitous".