August 2000 News

Clinton To Hardsell His Four Rs On Kashmir

27 August 2000
Hindustan Times
R Rajagopalan

Washington DC: President Bill Clinton may not play the role of the matchmaker, so assiduously sought by Pakistan, but will continue to hardsell his prescription of four Rs on Kashmir and Indo-Pak relations during Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee''s visit here next month. Under the four Rs that he expounded during his visit to the subcontinent last month, Clinton issued a call for restraint, respect for the Line of Control, renunciation of violence and resumption of dialogue. When he receives Vajpayee at the White House on September 15, Clinton is expected to place as much emphasis on resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan as on renunciation of violence. In a way, New Delhi has been saying much the same thing by linking talks with the cessation of cross border terrorism. Speaking to the Hindustan Times sources in the State department have stuck to the line that Washington is not going to prescribe a solution for Kashmir. Nor is it going to offer to mediate in the festering dispute. But it would very much want India and Pakistan to resume their stalled dialogue. This broad American approach is unlikely to please Pakistan which has been openly seeking the US intervention and a generally greater international involvement on the Kashmir issue in a bid to apply diplomatic pressure on India. In recent weeks what appeared to have further spoiled Pakistan''s case has been the step up of terrorist violence beginning with the Pahalgam massacre. The US was quick to condemn the incidents. After the Pahalgam massacre Clinton spoke to Pakistan''s Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf to voice his acute concern. Washington has also been highly critical of the manner in which Hizbul Mujahideen went back on the ceasefire and broke off talks with the Indian government by suddenly insisting on involving Islamabad in the negotiations. Given this overall background, both the Us and Indian establishments have given short shrift to media speculation on a Clinton inspired Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting on the sidelines of the UN millennium Summit in New York next month. Three days ago, The Washington Times quoted a state department official as saying that the US is not trying to instigate such a meeting, which if at all, has to be at the initiative of the parties themselves. It is another idea that the US will support the idea of a meeting. There is also little likelihood of President Clinton holding a meeting either with Vajpayee or Gen Musharraf while in New York for the summit from September 6 to 8, which is slated to be attended by some 160-odd heads of state or Government. The talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee will be held in Washington on September 15 after the Prime Minister''s visit to San Francisco. At his meeting with Clinton, Vajpayee is expected to highlight the Indian willingness to talk to outfits like Hizbul Mujahideen and the Pakistani role in thwarting the effort, leading to a step up in terrorist violence.


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