Iraq war led to Indo-Pak peace move: Vajpayee

Agence France Presse

New Delhi, April 13:

The US-led war in Iraq prodded India and Pakistan to launch a process to resolve their disputes over Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in an interview published today. He, however, rejected opposition claims US had put direct pressure on the two neighbours to sort out their hostilities. The premier told the Times of India that a “circumstantial factor” was linked to his gesture in Kashmir on April 18 last year when he extended a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan to kick off a fresh peace initiative. “The war in Iraq was a warning to all developing countries (that) we needed to resolve our disputes peacefully and speedily amongst ourselves,” the 79-year-old Vajpayee said.

“The number of people in Pakistan who think likewise is steadily growing,” Vajpayee said, without naming individuals who back the ongoing peace process between the two South Asian countries. Vajpayee told the paper he was convinced Islamabad would not try to derail the ongoing peace process, which has led, inter alia, to the first full tour of Pakistan by an Indian cricket team in almost 15 years.