May 2000 News

Reduction in Kashmir violence can help open talks: US

27 May 2000
Daily Excelsior

Islamabad: The United States today said reduction in violence in Kashmir can help open dialogue between India and Pakistan and ruled out any mediation by Washington to resolve the issue. ''The US believes that reduction of violence in Kashmir can help open dialogue between the two countries. Both India and Pakistan have to contribute towards this end,'' US Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering told reporters here. ''We donít yet see a dialogue being started. We believe the dialogue is important to calm the situation and increase a search for peace,'' Pickering, who held intensive talks with Pakistani officials and met yesterday with military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, said. He said the US is not a mediator but would only play a role if asked by both India and Pakistan. Pickering, who flew to Pakistan after holding talks in India, said the US hoped for signs of an early reduction of violence in Kashmir and, ''this is something that obviously both Pakistan and India can find ways to contribute to.'' This, he said, will help, ''start dialogue between them. ''Of course tension between both countries are exacerbated and aggravated by their long-standing and serious differences over Kashmir and so we have also focused our attention in that region and our discussion with both sides have carried forward our concern to that issue,'' he said. Bilateral talks were suspended after Pakistani intrusions in Kargil last year. Pickering said long-standing and serious differences over Kashmir had aggravated tensions between the two neighbours. ''So we have also focussed our attention on that region and our discussion with both sides have carried forward our concern,'' he said. Pickering added that he believed the two countries would be able to iron out their differences without the involvement of a third party. However, he said the wishes of the people of Kashmir would have to be sought as well. Meanwhile, the issue of nuclear proliferation ''must be tackled by both states urgently,'' Pickering said, rejecting the notion that progress on Kashmir was necessary for this. ''The US would be the last to believe there is any justification,'' for linking progress on the nuclear issue to Kashmir, he said. The US diplomat said the 1998 nuclear tests by Pakistan and India had increased the potential for an expanded conflict between the two countries. He said the nuclear tests did not contribute in a positive sense to the security of either Pakistan or India. ''And therefore, we donít believe there is a valid reason to develop or to test or continue to expand the development of nuclear weapons in the sub-continent.'' He said the United States would contribute to the policies of both India and Pakistan for moving towards signing the global nuclear comprehensive ban treaty.


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