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Pakistan Reaffirms Commitment to Peace Process with India - 2004-05-13

Pakistan says it is confident the peace process with India will continue, despite the unexpected results of the Indian elections.

Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri says Pakistan desires peaceful relations with India, and hopes efforts to improve ties between the two nations will not be affected by the outcome of the elections in India.

"Pakistan looks forward to seriously and closely engaging with the next government in India, to promote this process of peace and resolution of differences and disputes, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute," he said.

On Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee resigned, after his coalition unexpectedly lost in national elections. It is not clear yet who will replace him.

Mr. Kasuri acknowledged the efforts Mr. Vajpayee made to reduce tensions and normalize relations between India and Pakistan.

"We, in Pakistan, are very sincere in carrying forward the peace process already initiated, and sincerely hope the next government in India will join us in this endeavor, so that this historic opportunity for peace in South Asia is not missed," said Khurshid Kasuri.

Mr. Kasuri says almost all the political parties in India and Pakistan support building peaceful relations.

The territorial dispute over Kashmir has been the main cause of tensions and strained bilateral relations, and has triggered two of the three wars between India and Pakistan.

Fighting nearly broke out again two years ago, and the two countries cut ties. A year ago, however, relations began to thaw, after an overture by Mr. Vajpayee in New Delhi. Since then, transport links between the two have re-opened, and there have been a series of diplomatic meetings to discuss the relationship.