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Rediff.com  » Election » New Foreign Minister speaks up on Indo-Pak ties

New Foreign Minister speaks up on Indo-Pak ties

May 23, 2009 21:42 IST

As he prepares to assume charge, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Saturday termed the terror infrastructure in Pakistan as a 'stumbling block' in the improvement of bilateral ties and said Islamabad should take steps to address it so that the neighbours can live in peace.

Krishna, who was named the external affairs minister earlier in the day, made it clear that he would work for pushing ties with neighbours and consolidate relations with rest of the world, including the United States, Russia, China, Japan and European Union.

In his first interaction with the media after his appointment, he said India wanted to have friendly and peaceful relations with its neighbours as it was essential for its main goal of achieving the economic growth rate of 9 to 10 per cent.

To a question on Pakistan, Krishna, who will take over on Monday, said, "We stand ready to extend our hand of friendship and partnership with Pakistan. It may take determined and credible action to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism that is operating there. That has been a stumbling block (in improvement of relations). It is for Pakistan to take these necessary steps (to dismantle terror infrastructure) so that all of us can live in peace."

Dealing with Pakistan and cross-border terror will be one of the immediate challenges for Krishna. After the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year, India has been maintaining immense pressure on Pakistan to take credible action against those behind the carnage and dismantle the terror infrastructure.

"We cannot change our neighbours, we have to live with it... Generally, we would like to live in peace with neighbours. That has been our desire and we are pursuing that," the new external affairs minister said.

To a question on Sri Lanka, he made it clear that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government should look into the root causes of the 26-year-old civil war, and address the aspirations of the Tamil population.

"It is our view that as the conventional conflict in Sri Lanka comes to an end, this is a moment when the root causes of that conflict will have to be addressed. This would include political steps towards effective devolution of power within the Sri Lankan constitution so that Sri Lankans of all communities, including Tamils, can feel at home and lead lives of dignity at their own free will," he said.

"India will work with the people and government of Sri Lanka to provide relief to those affected by the tragic conflict and to rapidly rehabilitate those who have been displaced, bringing normalcy to their lives as soon as possible," he said.

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