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Pakistan welcomes Manmohan's statement

Manmohan had made the comments while flagging off a bus service linking Sikh shrines between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib.

india Updated: Mar 24, 2006 18:18 IST

Pakistan on Friday welcomed Manmohan Singh's statement on a possible "meaningful agreement" on contentious issues, saying it reflected many positive sentiments.

Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said the comments were also a strong acknowledgement of the need to move forward on Kashmir and other issues.

This happened hours after Manmohan Singh said an agreement was possible on tricky matters like demilitarising the Siachen glacier and resolving the border dispute at Sir Creek.

Manmohan had made the comments while flagging off a bus service linking Sikh shrines between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib in Pakistan.

Aslam said: "We believe the speech reflects many positive sentiments and a strong acknowledgement of the need to move forward on Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.

She, however, reiterated Pakistan's stated position that resolving the dragging Kashmir dispute was key to tackling other issues.

"Manmohan has also stated that both countries should address problems like poverty, disease and ignorance, " Aslam said.

"We have always stated that the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue can release the full potential of the peoples of South Asia to make progress and fight poverty, disease and ignorance," he added.

Manmohan Singh had said the government was not afraid of discussing "pragmatic, practical solutions" on Kashmir.

"It is possible for India and Pakistan to come to a meaningful agreement on issues like Siachen, Sir Creek and Baglihar," he said.

But he immediately qualified by adding it would be "a mistake to link normalisation" in other areas "with finding a solution to Jammu and Kashmir".

Aslam further said: "We also see Pakistan as the hub of economic activity. That is why we have offered energy corridors to India from Central Asia and Iran."

Aslam called for "bold steps by the leadership of both countries to resolve the outstanding issues".

"We also need sincerity and flexibility in order to overcome the legacy of the past," she said.

First Published: Mar 24, 2006 18:18 IST