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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 13:16 GMT
Bhutto pushes for peace in India
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Indian Home Minister LK Advani
Benazir Bhutto is on a four-day visit to India
The former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, has called on the leaders of India and Pakistan to take steps to avoid a nuclear conflict between their two countries.

In a speech in the Indian capital, Delhi, she said peace was imperative for the region which was on the verge of "doom and disaster".

Ms Bhutto is on a rare private visit to India where she is the attending a business conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

We owe it to our children to build a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation

Benazir Bhutto
On Sunday, she met Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as well as opposition leader Sonia Gandhi.

Ms Bhutto said the leaders of India and Pakistan needed to chart a new course in the stuttering peace process.

"We owe it to our children to build a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation," she said in her speech.

She added that she was in India to promote peace and understanding between the two estranged neighbours.

"Too much is at stake here, I want to play a role. I am terrified of the threat of annihilation," she said.

She also praised Mr Vajpayee for taking steps to improve relations with Pakistan, including declaring a unilateral ceasefire in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Dynasties meet

On Sunday she held a half-hour meeting with Sonia Gandhi.

Their conversation was not just a get-together of two of South Asia's most prominent opposition leaders but also a meeting of two surviving representatives of the Nehru Gandhi and Bhutto political dynasties.

Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi inherited the leadership of the Congress party
The BBC's Alastair Lawson in Delhi says many people in India think it odd that Benazir Bhutto seems to be more welcome in India than in her home country.

She has been found guilty of corruption in Pakistan and has been warned that she will be arrested if she returns.

Her husband, Asif Zardari, is currently in jail in Pakistan after he was convicted of corruption.

Sources say one reason she has been accorded such a warm welcome is because some senior officials want to use her presence in Delhi as a snub to Pakistan.

But whatever the reasons, the historic significance of Ms Bhutto's meeting with Sonia Gandhi is apparent.

Both women have seen close relatives either assassinated or hanged.

Sonia Gandhi's husband, Rajiv, was killed in 1991 by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber.

Ms Bhutto's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979

Former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto
"I am looking long term to what is good for South Asia"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | South Asia
Musharraf speeds up India dialogue
27 Jun 01 | South Asia
Bhutto trial judge resigns
06 Apr 01 | South Asia
Benazir Bhutto's extraordinary career
16 May 01 | South Asia
Musharraf: No deal with Bhutto
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