Welcoming recent talks between senior Indian and Pakistani officials, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged further dialogue to resolve outstanding issues, including the question of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Annan's reaction followed a meeting this weekend between the External Affairs Minister of India, K. Natwar Singh, and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mohammed Kasuri. The two South Asian officials reviewed the process of the composite dialogue between their countries.
In a statement released by his spokesman, the Secretary-General also welcomed the announcement that President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York later this month.
"He is heartened that the two sides continue to make steady progress towards resolving outstanding issues and improving their bilateral relations," the spokesman said, emphasizing that success would benefit not only on the lives of the peoples of the two countries but also regional and global stability.
The Secretary-General encouraged the leaders of India and Pakistan to pursue their efforts "with patience and a spirit of compromise in addressing the various issues, including the question of Jammu and Kashmir."
Kashmir has been split between the two countries since they won independence from the United Kingdom more than 50 years ago. UN observers have been deployed there for over five decades.