Kashmir on the agenda as Pakistan minister meets Singh

Pakistan prime minister's foreign affairs adviser reaffirms Islamabad's desire to have 'good neighbourly relations with India' in a meeting with the Indian prime minister.

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New Delhi // The Pakistan prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser yesterday reaffirmed Islamabad’s desire to have “good neighbourly relations with India” in a meeting with the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

Sartaj Aziz’s half-hour visit to prime minister’s offical residence came amid anger in New Delhi over his meeting earler with separatist leaders from the disputed Kashmir region.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Mr Aziz conveyed greetings from prime minister Nawaz Sharif and also affirmed “the need to address all outstanding issues through dialogue” during his courtesy call.

Mr Aziz met India’s external affairs minister Salman Khurshid and the national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, in Gurgaon near New Delhi on Tuesday.

Mr Khurshid raised the issue of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control between the Indian and Pakisan-occupied regions of Kashmir and increased infiltration of insurgents, as well as Mr Aziz’s meeting with Kashmiri separatists leaders, which he described as “counterproductive” to holding dialogue.

Islamabad said yesterday it was customary for a senior Pakistani official to consult Kashmiri leaders as the issue was the “core dispute” between the two countries that needed to be resolved.

“We further believe that the Kashmiri leadership ought to be associated with the dialogue process between India and Pakistan, a foreign ministry spokesman said. “We have always affirmed our moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people for their struggle to self-determine their destiny.”

Mr Aziz was in India to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting conclave held in Gurgaon on Monday and Tuesday.