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We have to keep talking, says Pranab

Source: PTI
September 11, 2004 17:19 IST
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Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday advocated continuous dialogue with Pakistan and hoped that some point of solution to the problems with that country would be found if continuous talks were held.

"It will be possible to reach some point of settlement if we continue to talk to each other," Mukherjee told newsmen after inaugurating a worshop for defence correspondents at the press club in Kolkata.

He said that both India and Pakistan were trying to see that an atmosphere of peace prevailed and a ceasefire was in force since November 2003.

"The ceasefire was prevailing and it will continue. This is, to my mind, a positive signal and the talks were a positive step forward."

Stating that India wanted peace, Mukherjee said, "We are prepared to ensure an atmosphere for peace."

As part of the composite dialogue with Pakistan, series of talks were held and recently the foreign ministers of both the countries had held a dialogue.

Before that, foreign secretary-level talks were held with Pakistan besides dialogue on confidence building on nuclear areas, he said.

To a question regarding India's defence preparedness, Mukherjee said that the country would have to be prepared for all times. In fact, peace time was the best time for defence preparedness, he said.

To a question whether India would give arms to Nepal and army to fight the Maoist rebels, the defence Minister said, "We are providing support as per their request."

During his visit, Nepalese Prime Minster Sher Bahadur Deuba had held talks with our prime minister besides other senior ministers in the government but he did not seek the physical presence of Indian army there, he said.

"But India had given assistance to Nepal in the past, we are providing it now and we will give it in future. But it will depend on what kind of help that country actually wanted from us," he said.

Asked whether India would urge Bangladesh to undertake military operation against the Indian insurgent groups who had taken shelter in that country, Mukherjee said that India could not take any proactive action as Bangladesh is a soverign country.

"We have requested Bangladesh to see that subversive activities against India were not carried out and take steps. But it depends on them whether thay will launch military offensive against the rebel groups like Bhutan," he said.

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