US Calls For Ending Infiltration In Kashmir
20 March 2003
The Hindustan Times
Washington DC: Viewing Indo-Pak tensions as 'one of the greatest challenges' in South Asia, the US has said ending cross-border infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir 'remains a key goal' and advocated dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad on the issue. 'Ending infiltration into Kashmir remains a key goal,' Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca, who was testifying on South Asia before the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific chaired by Congressman James A Leach, said. Rocca said she viewed the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan, primarily over Kashmir, as 'one of the greatest challenges to advancing our goals of moderation, stability and development in South Asia' and advocated dialogue between the two neighbours on Kashmir. She also said that the appointment of Indian government's interlocutor on Kashmir, NN Vohra, is 'a welcome development'. About the 'Common Minimum Programme' of reforms announced by the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government, she said 'we would like to see the State Government move forward on this initiative and for the Central Government in Delhi to support its efforts.' Last summer's election, she said, made it clear that the people of Kashmir want to pursue the path of peace. On Indo-US relations, Rocca recalled that soon after taking office, President George W Bush outlined the vision of a transformed and deepened US-India partnership, one that reflects India's emergence as a major regional power and the shared values of the world's two largest democratic countries. The scope of Indo-US relationship, Rocca said, has widened and broadened significantly over the past two years. The United States and India have overlapping vital national interests - promoting peace and stability, combating international terrorism, and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, she said. The US seeks a vital and comprehensive partnership with India that removes as many Cold War and other barriers as possible between the two countries, Rocca said. 'Over the past year,' she said, 'we have stepped up consultations on strategic and regional issues, and greatly fortified cooperation in science and technology, defence exchanges, intelligence dialogue and law enforcement. We are also working collaboratively with India to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. 'India is committed to preventing onward proliferation and we are encouraging and supporting India's efforts to upgrade its export-control system to meet international non-proliferation standards. We will deepen all these initiatives and extend engagement on on key global development issues, including climate change, reproductive health, HIV-AIDS and trafficking in persons.' India, Rocca said, is already one of the world's important economies, but there is much room for further growth through accelerated rapid economic reform. The US will continue to urge such reforms, particularly the fiscal consolidation necessary to address the government's domestic debt overhang and the continued liberalisation of their trading system, she said, adding a strong and rapidly expanding economy is essential to eradicate India's 'staggering' poverty.