June 2002 News

US yet to see proof of Musharraf''s Kashmir promise

5 June 2002
The Hindustan Times
Vasantha Arora

Washington DC: The US has yet to see evidence of what Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has promised - an end to infiltrations into Jammu and Kashmir, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said. Boucher said the situation between India and Pakistan was ''very, very tense''. ''We have been watching this situation very carefully,'' Boucher said Tuesday. ''We do have some indications that Pakistani actions go beyond words, but I''d say it''s too early for us to say there has been a cessation of infiltration.'' About the India-Pakistan standoff, Boucher said: ''At this moment the situation remains largely unchanged. It continues to be very, very tense... And as you know, we''ve continued our contacts with senior Pakistani and Indian officials and other parties to try to head off any escalation further.'' But Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with NPR radio, said there has been ''a little bit of improvement'' in the India-Pakistan crisis with somewhat fewer incursions by Muslim militants into Kashmir but ''tension in the region is still very high''. More time was needed to confirm that cross-border terrorism has come to a complete halt, he said. Powell said assurances from Pakistan on cessation of border activities had been conveyed to India. ''I''m encouraged by some statements the Indians made that they have seen some indication of change to the extent that there is additional time to wait and see whether this is a real change.'' Asked about the invitation reportedly extended by President Vladimir Putin to Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to visit Moscow, Boucher said the US welcomes Russia''s efforts. Boucher''s comments came on the day Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was to begin his visit to the region to meet Pakistani and Indian leaders. Armitage would have meetings Thursday in Islamabad and in New Delhi Friday, Boucher said. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would follow him later. Official sources here said top on Armitage''s and Rumsfeld''s agenda would be efforts to bring a halt to Pakistani extremists entering Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side and attacking Indian soldiers. The next step would be to persuade India to reciprocate by withdrawing its troops from the India-Pakistan border. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said: ''War is not inevitable, and that is why the US has been working so hard... to convince them that war is not in their interests, let alone the region''s or the world''s.''


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