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'India willing to discuss Kashmir issue with Pak'

New Delhi, Thu, 12 Apr 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Apr 12(ANI): India is willing to discuss about the Kashmir issue with Pakistan to advance the peace talks, but the latter needs to take serious action against militants using its soil to attack India, a top Indian diplomat has said.

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said the fact that Jamaat-ud- Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed was able to address public gatherings and appear on television was troubling to India.

He added that Pakistan's recent moves, including an agreement in February 2012 to open its markets to Indian goods indicates that the latter is serious in improving bilateral ties.

"I wouldn't have been as optimistic six months ago. The fact the government is able to move on the trade track shows there's a greater willingness to take things forward by all the players," The Wall Street Journal quoted Mathai, as saying.

He said India "would be happy" to start talks toward a deal to keep Kashmir's borders intact, but allow greater trade and movement of people across the Line of Control.

New Delhi believes it is now "up to the Pakistanis to decide how to proceed" on peace talks, Mathai said.

His statement, which comes after the Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's recent one-day trip to India, suggests that a recent thaw in ties between both countries could lead to discussions on the key territorial issue, which has been off the table since 2007.

According to Indian officials, other discussion between India and Pakistan are likely to prove more contentious and that militants like Saeed continue to receive backing from Pakistan's powerful army, protecting them from a crackdown.

"If the army didn't want Hafiz on TV issuing threats to one and all, they'd be able to do something," Mathai said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said that while there had been progress in the "tone and tenor" of the discussions, Pakistan believes that "unless the Jammu and Kashmir issue is resolved we cannot expect lasting peace in South Asia." (ANI)

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