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Pakistan Adopts Wait And See Approach to Kashmir Peace Process


Pakistan's president says he is not happy with all of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's comments this week about the disputed territory of Kashmir. The Pakistani government is taking a wait-and-see approach as a peace dialogue between the sides continues.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says India's prime minister is not showing flexibility in the search for a settlement over Kashmir, which both Pakistan and India claim. In an interview late Thursday with Agence-France Presse, President Musharraf said he is disappointed with the "vibes" from India.

He was reacting to Indian leader Manmohan Singh's rejection Wednesday of Pakistan's suggestion to re-examine Kashmir's borders, including the "Line of Control" which separates the Indian and Pakistani portions.

During his first visit to Kashmir, Mr. Singh ruled out redrawing boundaries in the mostly Muslim territory, of which about two-thirds is currently held by India.

Despite the differences, Pakistani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Masood Khan says a strong push for solution is continuing.

"While these statements are being made, reiterating your traditional position, efforts are also taking place to bring about a breakthrough," he said.

In terms of a breakthrough, India did begin a phased withdrawal of troops in Kashmir, pulling out Wednesday about a thousand of its solders. Spokesman Khan says he hopes India, which has anywhere from 250,000 to more than half million troops in Kashmir, will continue the draw down.

"It's a good beginning. There's not a full stop after this first withdrawal, we hope," he said.

Mr. Singh also pledged to hold unconditional talks with anyone interested in peace - that would ostensibly include militants in Kashmir who are fighting against Indian rule.

The Indian-based Kashmiri Muslim group - the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference - said it wanted to talk to Pakistan first before responding to the offer.

Mr. Khan says Pakistan is encouraging the idea.

Meanwhile, India and Pakistan are continuing their year-and-a-half-old peace process, with newly elected Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz slated to meet Mr. Singh Tuesday in New Delhi.

The two nuclear armed neighbors have fought two full scale wars and several skirmishes over Kashmir.

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