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India-Pakistan talks a welcome development.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA2 7 January 2004

INDIA-PAKISTAN TALKS A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT

I warmly welcome the historic agreement between Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to open a dialogue next month on bilateral issues including Jammu and Kashmir. The statesmanship displayed by both leaders in pursuit of peace is worthy of congratulations and praise.

The formal meeting between Indian and Pakistani leaders on the margins of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit held in Islamabad earlier this week was their first since 2001. It followed a range of confidence-building measures and other steps undertaken by both countries over the past year.

I urge the two countries to conduct the dialogue in a spirit of understanding and cooperation.

Media inquiries: Andrew Park (Ministerial) 02 62777 500 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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