October 2002 News

US can act as 'facilitator' on Kashmir: Mansingh

12 October 2002
The Times of India

WASHINGTON: The US can be a 'facilitator' rather than a 'mediator' in solving the Kashmir issue, Indian Ambassador to the United States Lalit Mansingh has said. 'A facilitator is somebody who is a friend, who suggests things and does not dictate. To that extend we welcome the role of United States,' Mansingh told a conference of retired diplomatic and consular officers here on Friday. If the United States' role as a 'facilitator' leads to enduring peace in the region, 'nothing could be better for us,' he said. Mansingh was responding to the speakers at the conference who wondered whether US has a role as a mediator, facilitator or some other capacity to defuse tensions and solve the Kashmir issue, emphasising that US interests require friendship with both India and Pakistan. Reiterating that India and the US are partners in the fight against terrorism, he said, the task remains unfinished as long as terrorism continues to reside across India's western border, apparently referring to Pakistan. 'The Taliban may have been defeated in Afghanistan, but our task of defeating terrorism remains far from finished. Much of the infrastructure of terrorism remains intact. Its ideological soul is alive and strong. The epicentre continues to reside across India's western border,' he said. Mansingh expressed optimism that India can resolve the problems in Kashmir, as the country did earlier in Punjab. Mansingh also emphasised the great strides in the Indo-American relations that President Bush began and is building upon. He expressed confidence that India will be able to raise her economic growth to 8 per cent, and in this he was supported by one of the speakers, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former finance secretary. Ahluwalia said his confidence was based on the fact that states which lagged in growth were now determined to catch up. Former assistant secretary of state for South Asia Karl F. Inderfurth, who addressed the meeting, pointed out that President Bush's National Security Strategy document recognises India as a growing world power. It is in the US interest, said Inderfurth, to have a strong relatonship with New Delhi. 'The Clinton administrtion had reached a similar conclusion. Now with the two administrations, Democratic and Republican adopting this position, the relationship is one that is settling in for the long haul,' he said. Inderfurth stressed that Indo-US relations must be perceived in their own terms and not in terms of US' problems with China. Any effort by the US to play a triangular game, he said, would be dangerous and damaging.


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