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No Bilateral Talks to Be Held Between India, Pakistan - 2002-01-05

India says it has not held bilateral talks with Pakistan at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal. The summit will conclude on Sunday, and there is no indication that the leaders of India and Pakistan will meet to try to defuse tensions between their two countries.

Senior Indian diplomats say reports of bilateral discussions between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan that circulated at the SAARC summit late Saturday are false. They say the two men did hold discussions, but only as part of a group, and that no bilateral discussions are planned.

Earlier at the opening of the summit Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf approached India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and extended his hand in a gesture of friendship. Mr. Vajpayee welcomed the gesture in his speech but said he too had extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan only to be answered with aggression in Kashmir and the attack on India's parliament.

General Musharraf called on India to renew a dialogue between the two countries. He also condemned terrorism - but referring to the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan's President said a distinction must be made between terrorism and what he described as "legitimate resistance and freedom struggles."