Not afraid of K-word, terror machine must stop for talks: Manmohan (Second Lead)

Monday, November 8, 2010

NEW DELHI - With US President Barack Obama by his side, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday underlined his commitment to pursuing peace with Pakistan but made it clear that as long as the “terror machine” was active against New Delhi it will be difficult to keep on talking.

“You can’t simultaneously talk and have at the same time terror machinery active as ever before, Manmohan Singh told reporters at a joint press interaction with Obama after wide-ranging talks.

“India is committed to resolving all outstanding problems with Pakistan but simultaneously Pakistan should ensure that it moves away from terror-induced coercion. We will be happy to engage productively,” the prime minister when an American journalist asked the US president about his views on Kashmir.

“We are not afraid of talks with Pakistan. We are not afraid of the K-word,” the prime minister said, referring to the dispute over Kashmir.

Issues relating to Pakistan-origin terrorism and terror groups active in the region figure prominently in restricted discussions Manmohan Singh and Obama, said official sources.

Agreeing with Obama who said that it was in the interest of India and Pakistan to reduce tensions, Manmohan Singh said that a “strong, moderate and peaceful Pakistan is in the interest of India, South Asia and the world as a whole”.

Obama, on his part, ruled out mediation between India and Pakistan in their bilateral disputes and backed India’s approach of confidence building measures before pursuing more controversial issues, a point he had made in Mumbai Sunday during an interaction with students.

“Obviously, that’s a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan have an interest in reducing tensions, Obama said.

The US can’t impose solutions, he said, but added that the US would be happy to play “any role” that the partners thought is appropriate.

In remarks that seemed to endorse India’s incremental approach to resolving issues, Obama said that the two sides may need to pursue confidence building measures. “Dialogue between India and Pakistan may not begin on the particular flashpoint (Kashmir). I believe that it is in the interest of India and Pakistan to reduce tensions between themselves, Obama said.

Pakistan had blamed India’s gradualist approach and insisted on a timeline for resolving difficult issues like Kashmir, a posture that is widely believed to have wrecked the July 15 foreign minister talks between the two countries.

Manmohan Singh’s reminder to Pakistan about continuing cross-border terror a day after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari blamed India for the failure of the talks

“The democratic civil government went out of the way in our peace overtures towards India, Zardari said in a speech to a South Asia Free Media Association in Islamabad Sunday. It would have been most helpful if our initiatives had been welcomed and responded to in a positive manner.

Against this backdrop, Obama lauded Manmohan Singh’s personal initiative in pursuing peace with Pakistan.

“The prime minister has spoken out privately and publicly about his desire and personal commitment to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan, Obama said.

Prime Minister is sincere and relentless in his desire for peace, he said.

Obama also stressed that the two sides will deepen their cooperation in counter-terrorism measures by initiating a dialogue on homeland security.

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