Meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders 'customary': Pakistan

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Islamabad, Nov 13: Pakistan on Wednesday brushed aside India's unhappiness over Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz's meetings with Kashmiri separatists in New Delhi, saying such meets were "customary" and the Kashmir issue remains the "core dispute" between the two countries.

"It is customary that when our Foreign Minster or Foreign Secretary go to India for official commitments, they do consult Kashmiri leaders," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said.

"We believe the Kashmir issue is the core dispute between the two countries that needs to be resolved. We further believe the Kashmiri leadership ought to be associated with the dialogue process between India and Pakistan," he said during a weekly news briefing.

Describing Aziz's meetings with the separatists as an "important activity", he said: "This is not the first time that this has happened. This has been happening for as long as I remember."

Pak's Sartaj Aziz's held a meeting with Kashmiri separatists in New Delhi.

Pakistan has always extended moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris for their "struggle" and this backing will continue, he said. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid yesterday said India’s "sentiments and sensitivities" have to be respected for a meaningful dialogue while expressing unhappiness at Aziz's meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Replying to a question, Chaudhry said alleged "repression" and "human right violations" in Jammu and Kashmir are a matter of concern.

"The solution lies in finding a durable solution of the Kashmir issue by engaging in a meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India," he said.

Asked about Aziz’s other engagements in India, Chaudhry said he had met Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


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