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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Media reflects India-Pakistan divide
Indians reading local newspaper
The summit has dominated the newspapers
By BBC News Online's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi

The failure to reach an agreement in Agra has been met with disappointment - and some anger - by the media in both India and Pakistan.

Most felt that the differences between the two countries over Kashmir were too wide to bridge.

"They broke the ice, then froze," runs the headline in The Indian Express.

Indian sentry in Kashmir
Kashmir remains a huge stumbling block
"Abandoning all pretence of an acceptable formulation over a 'solution' for Kashmir, General Pervez Musharraf finally returned home to Islamabad tonight.

"All of the sub-continent had waited over the last 48 hours for a grand, nine-point bargain called the Agra declaration. Instead, neither side could even agree on a token press statement that baldly stated what had happened," it said.

"So near and yet so far," says The Asian Age in its lead article.

It reports that after an uneasy day of negotiations ended in stalemate the two leaders threw up their hands but agreed to meet again later in the year.

President Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee "were unable, in the final analysis, to overcome the essential differences that have divided the two nations over cross-border terrorism and the 'will' of the people of Kashmir".

The Hindu also said that fundamental differences over Kashmir proved to be the stumbling block, and warned of a damaging short-term fall-out from the summit's failure.

President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee
The two leaders have agreed to meet again
"Indo-Pak relations may now get worse before they get better."

Some newspapers argue that President Musharraf's breakfast meeting with senior Indian news editors on Sunday, that was shown widely on television, led to the breakdown of talks.

The Economic Times described it as "The breakfast that broke the table," saying the outcome of the summit did not come as a surprise after the meeting.

"What was thought to be an attempt by the Prez to win over friends in the Indian media turned out to be a calculated design on the part of the generaral to address his domestic constituency," it said.

But Pakistani newspapers commended President Musharraf's performance at the summit, with The Nation describing it as a difficult three days for the general.

"But from a nervous guest to a crisp and firm president addressing Indian editors over breakfast, Musharraf had the summit under his command by the time the joint declaration was being hammered out," it said.

It said that although it had been unreasonable to expect that all outstanding issues be resolved by the end of the summit, it was not unreasonable to expect the two countries to at least come up with a joint statement.

"What the failure of the talks signifies is that we did not even agree to disagree - and that is such a shame," it said.

'Deep mistrust'

Other Pakistani papers blamed Indian intransigence for the failure of the talks.

"India ruins Agra summit," runs the banner headline in the News.

It said the deadlock was "created basically by the obduracy and refusal of the Indians to be reasonable and accept even a diluted mention of Kashmir in the proposed joint Agra Declaration".

"The high road to peace they set out to walk together was paved with deep mistrust (which) they mistook for good intentions," the Dawn said.

It said the tone of the summit was one-sided from the very beginning - President Pervez Musharraf did most of the talking to the media against Prime Minister Vajpayee's deafening silence.

But it added that one positive aspect of the summit was the fact that Mr Vajpayee had accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan.

See also:

14 Jul 01 | South Asia
Indian press cautious on summit
06 Jul 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan: Troubled relations
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