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Indo-Pak relations have improved: Aziz

The Pakistan prime minister also says that a historic chance exists to resolve the Kashmir issue in a manner acceptable to all.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2006 14:41 IST

Pakistan has said there was an "improved" atmosphere and increased people-to-people contacts between India and Pakistan since the initiation of the peace process in 2004 and currently a "historic" opportunity exists to resolve the Kashmir issue in a manner acceptable to all.

A stable, conflict-free cooperative relationship between Pakistan and India held the key to durable peace and prosperity in South Asia, Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said addressing academics and students at the Princeton University on Friday.

There had been an improved atmosphere and increased people-to-people contacts since the launch of the Indo-Pak peace process in 2004.

"A historic opportunity exists to resolve the Kahsmir dispute in a manner acceptable to all," he said.

On allegations of nuclear proliferation by Pakistan, he said Pakistan was not responsible for it.

"We were obliged to respond in order to ensure our security by establishing a credible nuclear deterrent."

Pakistan supported nuclear restraint and is opposed to arms race in the region, Aziz was quoted as saying by local daily Dawn.

"However, we cannot accept discrimination, especially with regard to access to civilian technology for nuclear power generation under international safeguards," he added.

The Pakistan Prime Minister asserted that "cooperation between Pakistan and United States is essential for peace and development in the world as well as in the South Asian region.

"We (Pakistan and US) are involved in a joint struggle against extremism and terrorism, we are committed to forging a better understanding between Islam and the West," Aziz said.

There were "several challenges before us that threaten to destabilise the international system, undermine peace and retard development," he said.

Pakistan and the US must work together with other likeminded states to address these interrelated challenges.

On allegations of nuclear proliferation against Iran he said, "We recognise Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under appropriate IAEA safeguards but Tehran must also abide by its obligations under the NPT consistent with its public statements disavowing any intention to develop nuclear weapons.

"In our view, this issue must be resolved through dialogue and compromise".

First Published: Nov 11, 2006 13:46 IST