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Indian PM says Peace Process With Pakistan Progressing


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says the peace process between India and Pakistan is making progress. He also says his government has built friendlier relations with countries across the globe.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says his government is committed to finding pragmatic, practical solutions to all differences with Pakistan.

The Indian leader sounded optimistic about a two-year peace process that has lowered tensions between the nuclear rivals, but brought them no closer to solving their decades-old dispute over the divided territory of Kashmir.

Mr. Singh says the restoration of cross-border links and closer contacts between the people of the two countries are significant gains.

"There has been progress," said Singh. "We are committed, as I said, to working with the government of Pakistan to create an environment in which India and Pakistan can have the friendliest possible relations. I attach great importance to that objective."

Mr. Singh's comments follow expressions of concern by the Pakistani leadership that India is unwilling to engage in substantive negotiations on Kashmir.

The prime minister comments come nearly two years after his Congress-led government came to power.

He said he would like the dispute over Iran's nuclear program to be resolved through negotiations at the International Atomic Energy Agency, and not the U.N. Security Council. The IAEA meets Thursday and is expected to report Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council.

Singh made no commitment which way India will go if the issue comes up for a vote. India went along with the United States and European Union at an IAEA meeting in September, but the prime minister faced fierce criticism from his communist allies in parliament, who accused him of abandoning an old friend under pressure from Washington.

Mr. Singh also denied that New Delhi is compromising its interests in order to press ahead with a nuclear deal with Washington, that will give India access to civilian nuclear energy technology.

The prime minister says his government has built friendlier relations with many countries including China and United States. He said the country's resurgent economy has triggered growing interest in India, and countries from East Asia to the West are engaging more closely with it.

"All along I feel in last two years there has been all round improvement in India's economic performance, India's standing in the world at large," he said.

Prime Minister Singh expressed confidence that the country will be able to achieve eight to 10-percent growth in the coming years.