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Expulsion of dpls won't hurt peace with India: Pakistan

PAKISTAN: Pakistan said the tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats by itself and India should not affect the peace process between the nuclear-armed nations.

Pakistan on Saturday ordered Indian diplomat Deepak Kaul to leave the country for suspected spying and India reciprocated within hours by expelling an official from Islamabad's embassy in New Delhi.

"In our view the expulsions should make no difference to the peace process," foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam told a weekly briefing.

Aslam urged India not to see the dialogue process, launched in early 2004, in terms of whether or not the neighbouring countries were making a "concession".

"We have repeatedly said that peace process is in the interest of Pakistan, India, this region and the world at large," she said.

Pakistani diplomat Sayed Mohammad Rafiq Ahmed expelled by India in response to expulsion of Deepak Kaul, visa counsellor at the Indian mission in Islamabad returned home late Monday.

Ahmed refused to talk to reporters at Islamabad airport. "I have strict instructions not to speak to the media."

Analysts have said the developments were a bad sign for the rapprochement between Pakistan and India, who have fought three wars and came to the brink of a fourth in 2002.

Islamabad, Tuesday, AFP

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