- Title: PAKISTAN: VAJPAYEE AND MUSHARRAF MEET FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO YEARS
- Date: 5th January 2004
- Summary: (W3) ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (JANUARY 5, 2004) (ANI) VARIOUS: MEETING BETWEEN INDIAN PRIME MINISTER ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE AND PAKISTAN PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF; VAJPAYEE AND MUSHARRAF SHAKING HANDS; VAJPAYEE, MUSHARRAF AND OFFICIALS SEATED AT MEETING; SMALL INDIAN AND PAKISTAN FLAGS ON TABLE (12 SHOTS)
- Embargoed: 18th June 2014 19:08
- Location: ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
- Country: Pakistan
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA5HCXEI8Y0WJYW18YQ1M61KWMO
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf have met for the first time in more than two years.
The leaders of India and Pakistan met for over an hour on Monday (January 5) for the first time in more than two years, seeking to cast aside the enmity that took their nuclear-armed countries to the brink of war in 2002.
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf talked for an hour and five minutes on the sidelines of a South Asian summit, according to Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid.
"This meeting (was) held for one hour and five minutes... and the foreign minister of Pakistan and India.
And all issues have been discussed there. Hopefully, let's see if there is some positive approach and some good news comes," Ahmed told Reuters Television.
Pakistani state television showed the two men seated about a metre (yard) apart and facing forwards, turning to chat to each other for the benefit of the cameras before the meeting got under way properly.
"You know, Vajpayee said by himself that he is ready to discuss all the issues, including Kashmir. And we have discussed the terrorism, Kashmir and other things,"
Speaking before the meeting, Vajpayee, who is paying his first visit to Pakistan in almost five years, called for talks between the neighbours to resolve disputes that have plagued relations since independence from Britain in 1947.
Pakistan has been pushing for an agreement to start a
"structured" dialogue over Kashmir, and foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan called Monday's meeting "a good beginning."
Diplomats said Vajpayee's meeting with Musharraf was a step forward in the process of rebuilding relations.
Kashmir is the main obstacle to progress between the two countries. It has been divided between the rivals since a war which followed independence. The bitter dispute has cost tens of thousands of lives since then.
Two years ago the neighbours again came to the brink of war over Kashmir, after an attack on the parliament in New Delhi that India blamed on Pakistan-backed militants.
But in April, Vajpayee launched a "final bid" for peace in his lifetime. Since then full diplomatic relations have been resumed and some travel links have been reinstated.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough came in November when Pakistan announced a ceasefire along the front line in Kashmir.
That has since held, though violence has continued in Indian Kashmir between security forces and Muslim separatist rebels.
With Vajpayee expected to stand down at elections later this year and Musharraf promising to give up his army uniform at the end of 2004 -- although he will remain president -- diplomats say both men appear keen to move the process forward.
What is less clear is if they will find any middle ground.
India controls 45 percent of the mainly Muslim former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the real bone of contention, the stunning Kashmir valley itself.
Pakistan, which controls about a third of the region, is accused by India of fomenting rebellion in Indian Kashmir. It denies the charge and counters by accusing Indian security forces of widespread human rights abuses in the Kashmir valley.
China controls a small chunk of territory in the northeast.
Vajpayee and Musharraf last held talks at a failed summit in the Indian city of Agra in July 2001, though they shook hands briefly at the last SAARC summit in Kathmandu two years ago and did so again ahead of a state dinner on Sunday night.
In Monday's meeting they were accompanied by their foreign ministers, foreign secretaries and high commissioners.
Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz and India's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra were also present.
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