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Sunday, 15 July, 2001, 06:49 GMT 07:49 UK
Media positive on summit's first day
Indians reading local newspaper
Indian media focussed on Musharraf's approach to the summit
By BBC News Online's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi

Indian and Pakistani newspapers are upbeat after the first day of President Pervez Musharraf's landmark visit to India.

While the Indian media focussed on the Pakistani president's approach to the summit and his body language, Pakistani newspapers wrote about the warmth with which their leader was received.

While day one was seen as more symbolic than substantive - with the main discussions scheduled for Sunday - Indian dailes felt that there was hope that the summit would be positive.

"The first round of consultations between the Indian leaders and General Musharraf... helped clear the air," The Hindu wrote in its lead article.

"While a political breakthrough in bilateral relations may remain elusive at Agra, the prospect for a productive summit appear to have improved," it said.

Tension eases

The Asian Age wrote that President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee were visibly tense when they first met, shaking hands without looking into each other's eyes.


The sceptics who had been predicting a doomed summit changed their view

The Asian Age
But, it said, the atmosphere lightened by the afternoon, when the two leaders warmed to each other over lunch.

"This is the spirit that will now guide the summit," The Asian Age said.

"The sceptics who had been predicting a doomed summit changed their view."

This assessment was echoed by the Hindustan Times.

"Musharraf appeared to be in unfamiliar territory upon his arrival: he hardly smiled, his handshakes appeared to lack warmth; and he appeared to acknowledge people with what looked looked like a cross between a salute and a wave.


As the day wore on he projected the image of a leader on a charm offensive

Hindustan Times
"But... as the day wore on he projected the image of a leader on a charm offensive."

The Indian Express wrote that the Pakistani president raised the curtains on the Agra summit by taking centre stage instead of standing in the wings.

"From that of a determined General to a confident CEO, from an image-conscious politician to a bargainer who knows how to soft-sell his hard talk.

"Leaving behind, for a suspicious and sceptical nation, the impression of a character who knows what to ask for as he walks into the make-or-break act tomorrow," the Express said.

Fresh approach

The Pakistani dailies also felt that day one had gone well as the president was warmly received and the hostile rhetoric of the past week had given way to more congenial statements.


President Musharraf said he would consider his mission in India reasonably successful if he could get Prime Minister Vajpayee to simply initiate a structured dialogue on Kashmir

Dawn
The News said that Pakistan and India indicated they would try fresh approaches to resolve their outstanding disputes.

"President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met several times informally, began to know each other and started preparing for their structured summit in Agra, expected to produce at least one agreement on Sunday, to meet again."

It said, however, that the two sides remained as inflexible on the core issue of Kashmir, as they were before, with no visible sign that any side was willing to give up anything, at least publicly.

The Karachi-based Dawn newspaper focussed on President Musharraf's 25-minute closed door meeting with Kashmiri separatist leaders, where he pledged his continued political and moral support to them.

"President Musharraf said he would consider his mission in India reasonably successful if he could get Prime Minister Vajpayee to simply initiate a structured dialogue on Kashmir, thereby recognising it as a key issue dogging the two countries," it said.

The Nation also referred to the president's emphasis on the importance of settling the Kashmir issue for peace and prosperity in South Asia.

By doing so he was addressing Pakistan's core concern, "at the same time conceding the relevance of points rasied by Mr Vajpayee on Friday concerning burying the past, building a new relationship of trust and the need to discuss a whole range of subjects which could dispel suspicion and contribute to peace", it said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Susannah Price in Agra, India
"Newspaper reports are quite positive"
See also:

15 Jul 01 | South Asia
Historic Agra summit begins
14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks fresh start with India
14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Indian press cautious on summit
14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Pakistan migrants live in hope
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