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Bleach issue in Advani-Blair talks

Advani assured Blunkett he would try and find a way out in the case of Purulia arms drop accused-Peter Bleach.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:19 IST

British Home Secretary David BLunkett, at a luncheon meeting with Deputy Prime Minsiter LK Advani on Tuesday, raised the issue of Peter Bleach's release, and his repatriation to the UK.

On February 2, 2000, an Indian court had sentenced Bleach to life for his role in the December 1995 Purulia Arms drop case.

Moreover, Advani also revealed that Tony Blair too had written about Bleach's release to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The Dy PM said he explained to Blunkett the legal problems and implications regarding Bleach's release and repatriation while appreciating the British concern because the Latvians, the other accused in the case, have already been released.

Advani, however, has assured Blunkett that he would discuss the issue of Bleach's release with the Union Law Minister on his return to New Delhi and try to find a solution. The Dy PM's stand on the issue remained the same during his meeting with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also.

During a media briefing, Advani was repeatedly asked about his reaction to the statement made by President Pervez Musharraf that there was no cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Advani reiterated that terrorists, attempting to cross the Line of Control (LoC) were shot on the LoC itself.

"Since June 8, when I left on my tour to the US and the UK, there have been several incidents including the killing of Hindus in the state," the Dy PM said.

"My assertion that terrorism continues and so does cross-border terrorism is based on facts. If General Musharraf has any facts to back his statements, I am not aware of them."

On his reported reaction to the statement of General Musharraf that the possibility of another Kargil could not be ruled out, Advani said that initially, even he was dismayed that the General had made such a statement. "Now that he says he was wrongly reported in the press I think the matter should end there," he said.

Advani informed that both Blair and Blunkett appreciated India's stand that no meaningful dialogue could be held on the Kashmir issue until terrorist infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir ended and the terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) had been dismantled.

"Prime Minister Blair expressed complete understanding of our position and assured me that he would underline these concerns during his meeting with General Musharraf in London today," Advani said.

The Dy PM said that both Blair and Blunkett repeatedly praised Vajpayee's initiative for peace talks after Kashmir elections in April.

On the issue of India sending forces to Iraq for its stabilisation, Advani said the issue had come up for discussion.

"The question of India's participation was also briefly discussed. I expressed to Prime Minister Blair that India had desired certain clarifications in this regard. In the United States, I had been informed that a US official team was going to visit India from June 16th and clarify the situation," he said.

Advani added that the Indian government would make a decision after the clarifications were made.

On the issue of the UN resolution regarding Kashmir's succession to India by a Pakistani journalist, Advani made it clear that according to the Constitution and Parliament of India, not only Kashmir valley, Jammu, and Leh are part of India but also the area administered by Pakistan and the parts ceded by Pakistan to China.

When asked what did he mean when he said a compromise would have to be reached after talks with Pakistan, Advani clarified that talks were essential for narrowing the wide gulf and divergence of opinion on various contentious issues.

"A compromise has to follow the dialogues. The very fact that Vajpayee offered the resumption of talks even after the rejection of the first two moves in Lahore and Agra, was itself an initiative. By compromise I mean that we have to first sit down to discuss issues and then arrive at some decisions," he said.

On China he said, "Our relations have been without any tensions though the two have had differences on the issues of border, Tibetan refugees in India and Tibet. Both countries have consciously endeavoured to bypass them and cooperate on other issues".

He denied the suggestion that the growing India-China relationship could affect Pakistan.

"The relationship between India and China stands on its own. It should not be linked with any other country," he said.

On the issue of BJP leadership, Advani clarified once again that he was reflecting the wishes of the people and the party when he said that Vajpayee should lead India's destiny for many more years.

The Deputy Prime Minister concluded that his meetings with various British leaders have further strengthened bilateral ties. "Both Blair and I hope that the cooperation between the two countries continue to deepen on the basis of the New Delhi Declaration jointly signed by Vajpayee and Blair," he said.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 13:43 IST