Vajpayee’s condition for participation in SAARC summit
FO rejects Indian calls for bilateral trade
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday turned down the Indian demand for bilateral trade as a pre-condition for AB Vajpayee attending the SAARC summit, which is to be held in Pakistan early next year; stating the Indian conditions had no relevance under the SAARC charter.
“To make bilateral trade conditional to the SAARC summit is not acceptable. The summit is going to take place. The dates have been announced,” Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan said on Monday.
Mr Khan said discussions regarding the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) etc. were going on with other countries. “These are complicated matters in which lot of things have to be considered. After all, trade between countries have to be in mutual benefit”, he said.
Mr Aziz expressed hope that all the member states would agree with the dates of the summit, as a majority of them had already approved the tentative time. “The dates have been announced and a majority of the member states have agreed to them. We hope India will come forward and attend the meeting,” he said. He added that Pakistan would wait a few more days before deciding the cut-off dates.
Answering a question regarding India and Bhutan’s confirmation to attend the proposed SAARC summit, he said, “We have not received any definite answers either from India, or Bhutan so far. We are waiting for their decisions which I hope would be communicated soon,” he said.
Regarding the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan, he said the ball was in the Indian court. “We have not shied away from a dialogue with India. We have always maintained that solution to all problems lies in negotiations,” he said, adding that now was time India responded.
Mr Aziz said India’s claims, that the two men killed prior to the Hindu festival of Devali, were Pakistani citizens were ‘preposterous’. “The Indian media has carried the story of a fake encounter. It’s surprising such encounters take place only in India and the terrorists carry their identity cards, diaries, and plans as well,” he said.
Talking about the possible dates of resumption of Pak-US dialogue on the nuclear issue, he said Pakistan and the United States were engaged in an ongoing dialogue on the subject. “There is a continuing dialogue between the two countries, where both sides meet and discuss nuclear-related issues,” he said. An exact date for the talks had not been finalised, he said.
About the UN Security Resolution on Iraq, Mr Aziz said Pakistan has always quite clearly expressed its opinion on the subject. “We have always maintained that all issues should be resolved peacefully, though negotiations, and that the UN Resolutions should be implemented. This is a resolution under Chapter VII, which is mandatory on all the states and has been passed unanimously,” he said.