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SM Krishna, Shah Mehmood Qureshi pitch for talks

India and Pakistan have underlined that despite their differences they have "no other alternatives" but to engage in dialogue, ahead of a possible bilateral meeting of the foreign ministers.

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India and Pakistan have underlined that despite their differences they have "no other alternatives" but to engage in dialogue, ahead of a possible bilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the two
countries here.

"Today there is a realisation that a negotiated solution is the only sensible way," said Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, stressing his support for the composite dialogue at the Asia Society here yesterday.

External affairs minister SM Krishna said India wants to engage Pakistan in talks as it is the only way forward. 

"India wants to keep Pakistan engaged in talks because we do not see any other alternatives....talks are the only way to take this forward," he told the Indian media at a reception he hosted at the Indian Mission to the United Nations yesterday.

At this stage, Indian diplomats have not confirmed any bilateral meeting between the two ministers here on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, but a senior Pakistani diplomat claimed that a meeting had been cleared by both ministries and was expected to take place early next week.

Krishna, who arrived here for the UN general assembly session, will be in New York till September 29 while Qureshi is here till September 30.

Pakistan's foreign minister stressed that people in India and Pakistan wanted peace, and both countries were losing out if the hostility persisted. 

"There are large sections of people on either side of the border that feel normalisation makes sense, they feel that there is a peace dividend that we are being deprived of, they feel there is a lot of potential of bilateral trade," Qureshi said.

"We are not trading directly but we are trading through third parties...we are getting those goods at an expensive price and someone else is benefiting," he said at the New York-based think tank.

Noting that the Mumbai attacks were a big setback for the incremental gains achieved in the composite dialogue, Qureshi reiterated that New Delhi should have kept the dialogue going after the 26/11 terrorist attack. 

"Things were gelling very well and then Mumbai happened...Mumbai was a setback...it was huge setback for
normalization," the Pakistani leader said.

"If we disengage we are playing into the hands of those very elements that want disengagement...the message they get is by one incident they can turn the process back," he added.

India, however, maintains that normal talks can only resume after Islamabad cracks down on all the 26/11 terrorists that came from Pakistan.

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