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Indian Opposition Leader Says Peace Process 'Irreversible'

Indian opposition leader and president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Lal Kishan Advani Tuesday said the peace process initiated with Pakistan was "irreversible" and was in the best interest of the people of the two countries.

Addressing a press conference after meeting President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri, Advani said "In my view, peace is the only option, there is no other option."

Advani, once known for his hawkish views before the launch of Pakistan-India dialogue in January 2004 when BJP was in power, said during his meeting with President Musharraf, both felt that the peace process was irreversible and added their talks centered on "the next phase in the peace process."

"What has happened in the last two years between the people of the two countries has created a climate, in which it (peace) is doable, this is possible, and the meetings I had confirm this."

He termed his meetings with Pakistani leaders as "a milestone", adding he had a very "satisfying day" where he discussed the ongoing peace process between the two countries.

Advani, who arrived here on Monday on a week-long visit, said it was agreed that the process of dialogue on all issues should continue in an atmosphere of mutual trust and free of violence.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Kasuri called for flexibility by both Pakistan and India to resolve the Kashmir dispute during his meeting with visiting Indian opposition leader.

Kasuri emphasized that the Kashmir issue had to be tackled purposefully in the ongoing dialogue so that a solution acceptable to all the stakeholders, Pakistan, India and people of Kashmir, was found.

Kasuri told Advani that his visit could yet be another milestone in the promotion of relations between the two countries.

Advani said while the peace process had made progress, it was still tentative and though there was tranquility on border, there was need to make the process more enduring.

He told Kasuri that the government and people of Pakistan should know that it was the desire of the government and people of India to continue the current peace process, which, he added, enjoyed support by all parties in India.

(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2005)

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