July 2003 News

Kashmir attacks won't affect peace move: US

24 July 2003
The Dawn
Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said that recent attacks in Kashmir will not affect India and Pakistan's commitment to improve their relations through dialogue. In an interview to the Washington Times, which was officially released by the State Department on Thursday, Mr Powell said he discussed the situation in South Asia with the Indian foreign secretary after this week's terrorist attacks in Kashmir and felt that these had not affected the peace process. Mr Powell said that the Bush administration no longer saw the subcontinent as 'solely an India-Pakistan-US problem, but (as) US- India, US-Pakistan (relations).' 'Both countries realize that the United States is now an honest friend to both, and we can help both as they move toward one another,' he added. Mr Powell said that since last summer, the situation had improved so much that 'even with what happened in Kashmir over the last 24 hours, I think both sides are now committed to improving the dialogue.' Mr Powell said the United States was not encouraging India and Pakistan to move too fast in improving their relations. He indicated that the United States did not want India and Pakistan to hold a summit level meeting yet. Using a baseball term 'deep passes,' which indicates a sudden major move, the secretary of state said he did not like 'deep passes' but preferred 'a ground game.' 'Not with deep passes, (such as) let's have a summit and put two leaders together. Let's do a ground game. I like ground games. Ground games tend to gain ground. We have been gaining ground in bringing the Indians and the Pakistanis together,' said Mr Powell. Meanwhile, India asked Pakistan to help counter the threat of 'terrorism' - ostensibly referring to the Kashmiri freedom groups active in the Indian-occupied territories - while blaming these groups for trying to derail the ongoing peace process between the two countries, adds Reuters from New Delhi. Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha conveyed New Delhi's commitment to a steady normalisation of ties with Islamabad in his first meeting with Pakistan's new ambassador, Aziz Ahmed Khan. 'He (Mr Sinha) ... drew attention to the need for Pakistan to cooperate with India to deal with the problem of terrorism,' a foreign ministry statement said.


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