'Security and safety of India paramount', says Khurshid ahead of PMs' talks

New York, Sep 28 (ANI): External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday said terrorism is an important issue that will crop up during the talks between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif because the security and safety of our citizens and the sovereignty of our country are paramount.

"I think the Prime Minister has made that very clear and we cannot but emphasize that this is a very significant matter for us. The main matter for us because security and safety of our citizens and the sovereignty of our country are paramount. And whatever we are doing is obviously in order to address that," he told ANI here, when asked whether terrorism would be the focus during the talks between the Prime Ministers of two Asian neighbours.

Commenting on Dr. Singh's address at the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Khurshid said the Prime Minister has made his statement taking into account both his aspirations and understanding of the national mood and the circumstances that prevail.

"Our hope was that an atmosphere will be built up, that will be positive and will contribute towards a positive movement forward, but there are obviously forces that don't find this an attractive proposition, who want to interfere with any movement forward between India and Pakistan. And we have to be very carefully weighing what their strategy is and what our objective is," he added.

Responding to a question on the opposition back home with regard to Manmohan-Sharif talks, Khurshid said: "It is a serious issue, if something happens adverse to our interests and if something happens that's hurtful, we have to take that into account. Now, the very purpose of contact with Pakistan is to reverse the situation."

"Now, I don't think anybody, has ever come up with an alternative strategy how they think that we will be able to succeed in what we are trying to do, which is essentially to ensure that our point of view prevails and also that our people remain safe and secure," he added.

The Prime Minister today talked tough during his UNGA address, and said it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilized for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India.

Dr. Singh said New Delhi is committed to resolving all issues with Islamabad.

"Speaking from this podium yesterday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan spoke of making a new beginning. I reciprocate his sentiments and am looking forward to meeting him tomorrow. India is committed sincerely to resolving all issues with Pakistan, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, through bilateral dialogue on the basis of the Shimla Agreement," he added.

Dr. Singh said, however, for progress to be made, it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilized for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India.

"It is equally important that the terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan be shut down. There must be a clear understanding of the fact Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and that there can never, ever, be a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India," he added.

Dr. Singh said terrorism remains a grave threat to security and stability everywhere and extracts a heavy toll of innocent lives around the world.

"From Africa to Asia, we have seen several manifestations of this menace in the last few days alone. State-sponsored cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India, also on account of the fact that the epicenter of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan," he added.

Dr. Singh, who yesterday met U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington D.C. yesterday, made it clear that any progress in the bilateral dialogue will depend on action by Pakistan against terror groups operating from its soil.

Dr. Singh will hold his first meeting with Sharif tomorrow.

The leaders of the nuclear-armed neighbours are expected to discuss rising violence in Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Muslim-majority Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

India has accused Pakistan of supporting militants fighting security forces in Indian Kashmir since 1989.

Militant strikes in Kashmir, as well as shooting and mortar fire between Indian and Pakistani forces across the border, have risen this year after a decade of falling violence. (ANI)

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