"It is customary that when our Foreign Minister or Foreign Secretary go to India for official commitments, they do consult Kashmiri leaders," Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said.

"We believe the Kashmir issue is the core dispute between the two countries that needs to be resolved. We further believe the Kashmiri leadership ought to be associated with the dialogue process between India and Pakistan," he said.

Describing Aziz's meetings with the separatists as an "important activity", he said: "This is not the first time that this has happened.    This has been happening for as long as I remember."

Pakistan has always extended moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris for their "struggle" and this backing will continue, he said.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid yesterday said India’s "sentiments and sensitivities" have to be respected for a meaningful dialogue while expressing unhappiness at Aziz's meetings with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Replying to a question, Chaudhry said alleged "repression" and "human right violations" in Jammu and Kashmir are a matter of concern.

"The solution lies in finding a durable solution of the Kashmir issue by engaging in a meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India," he said.

Asked about Aziz’s other engagements in India, Chaudhry said he had met Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "The meetings were held in a constructive and cordial atmosphere. All substantive issues were discussed. Pakistan believes the dialogue process is the most effective way to resolve outstanding issues and improve relations," he said.

Violations of the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) were also discussed. Pakistan believes the ceasefire agreement of 2003 should be respected, he said.

Aziz paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Singh on Wednesday morning and conveyed to him the greetings of the Pakistani premier and reaffirmed Pakistan's desire to have good neighbourly relations with India.

"The need to address all outstanding issues through the dialogue process was also affirmed," Chaudhry said.

Asked why the Directors General of Military Operations had not met despite a decision made in this regard by the two premiers in September, Chaudhry said the two military officers had been in contact on October 25 and 29 and they concurred on normalizing the situation along the LoC and the international border.

"Pakistan remains committed to implementing the decision of the two Prime Ministers that the DGMOs should meet to address the issue of ceasefire violations on the LoC," he said.

(Agencies)

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