Pak. told not to interfere in J&K polls: Powell
9 September 2002
Washington: The United States has said that it will continue to press Pakistan to check cross-border infiltration and has spoken to Islamabad not to interfere with the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. ''We discussed the situation across the border and I have reaffirmed to the Minister (Yashwant Sinha) we would continue to press the Pakistani Government to do everything possible to stop cross-border infiltration and remind them of the commitment they made not only to the U.S. but to the international community that they do not support such activity and would work actively to stop it'', the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said in response to a question by The Hindu after his meeting with the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha. ''We also talked about the coming elections (in Jammu and Kashmir) and I reaffirmed to the Minister we spoke to the Pakistanis about not interfering in any way with these elections which we expect to be free and fair and will be an opportunity for the people to see that these elections are being held in a free and fair manner'', Gen. Powell said. Mr. Sinha said that he was ''absolutely satisfied'' with the discussions he had with Gen. Powell. In his opening remarks at the ''Stakeout'' outside the State Department, Gen. Powell, remarked that his meeting with Mr. Sinha was not only about the immediate regional issues such as Afghanistan and the Line of Control but the broader bilateral agenda that encompassed cooperation in various fields such as economic, trade and research and development. He said that the administration was looking forward for the U.S. President, George W. Bush, and the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, to further discuss these topics and other issues. Mr. Sinha said that the two sides had reached a broad understanding on the substance of discussions that are to take place in New York this week between Mr. Bush and Mr. Vajpayee.