June 2000 News

U.S. denies reports on mediation

8 June 2000
Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington DC: The Clinton administration has denied reports that it has started ''secret diplomatic mediation'' between India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir dispute. The State Department acting spokesman, Mr. Philip Reeker when asked to comment on a report in the Jane''s Intelligence Digest to this effect, said, ''I saw those reports and no, we are not, and have not, done any such thing. Our approach on Kashmir has not changed. We continue to urge restraint and dialogue and do what we can, certainly, to encourage the parties to resolve their differences. But we do not see ourselves as mediators.'' ''I think the President said it best when he noted there is no military solution for Kashmir and he said that we believe there should be a process by which legitimate grievances of the Kashmiris can be addressed'', the spokesman added. He further said that the individuals being looked at as ''possible mediators'' were not acting on behalf of the United States and that Washington was not aware of individuals such as Mr. Mansoor Ijaz or Mr. Farook Kathwari acting independently either. ''I think I gave you our position from the U.S. Government''s point of view. What we have called for in the Kashmir situation is restraint, respect for the Line of Control, renewal of dialogue, rejection of violence and reduction of tension and peaceful resolution of the matter'', Mr Reeker said. The acting spokesman rejected the notion that the United States may be involved in discussions which may be taking place between India and Pakistan directly. ''I am not aware of that. I think we have talked about a number of high-level visitors. We have a regular dialogue with both governments. But as I said, we don''t see ourselves as mediators,'' Mr Reeker remarked going on to say that the interpretation of the American role as ''mediator'' was the work of some reporters. The spokesman also brushed aside a question whether during a recent visit to the region the Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Mr Thomas Pickering, was asked by either India or Pakistan to take a message back to the United States that either side would be willing to have the United States as a mediator. ''I am not aware of any such thing, no,'' Mr Reeker responded. Meanwhile the Clinton Administration is not willing to officially comment on a news report that Pakistan may have a more advanced nuclear and missile system than India, a system that was more powerful with more weapons than that of India. The report of NBC News, quoting senior military and intelligence officials, said that Pakistan''s nuclear arsenal was ''vastly superior'' to that of India with up to five times the nuclear warheads and had actually more capability to use them. Taking refuge under the topic of ''intelligence matters'', Mr Reeker argued that he was not in a position to comment or discuss the report. ''But let me say, this is not a question of a numbers game. The right number is zero on both sides. Exactly how many nuclear missiles each side could assemble and deploy if it chose to do so is not as important as avoiding an arms race'', the acting spokesman said. ''Our view, as we''ve stated on numerous occasions, has been to work hard with both sides to urge restraint and exercising of restraint in nuclear weapons and development and to resume a dialogue to resolve tensions. We would like to bring both India and Pakistan into the global non-proliferation mainstream and that''s the message the President delivered very strongly when he visited both countries''.


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