Clinton Mediating On Kashmir: Musharraf
25 December 2003
The Times of India
Islamabad: Leaders of various Kashmiri groups in Pakistan have been told by President Pervez Musharraf that former US president Bill Clinton has been unofficially mediating between India and Pakistan to help them to resolve the dispute through early t alks next year. An informed source told the Dawn newspaper that Musharraf had told the Kashmiri leaders that Clinton was in 'regular contact' with him (Musharraf) and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the issue, and was keeping the Bush Administration abreast of the situation. He further went on to say that Musharraf had confirmed that he had made a telephone call to Clinton to inform him about the developments taking place in the region. The president quoted Clinton as having said that he had been asked by Vajpayee whether Musharraf could be trusted, and that Clinton had replied in the affirmative. Clinton has also reportedly told Vajpayee that there had been a substantial reduction in the cross-border infiltration and now was the time to initiate a composite dialogue with Pakistan . Earlier this week, Musharraf said that he was looking forward to meeting Vajpayee on January 6 in Islamabad . According to the Dawn , officials are working on a plan under which either Musharaf would invite Vajpayee for informal talks over tea or the Indian premier would call on Musharraf under the conventional protocol. Musharraf, sources said, had told the Kashmiri leaders that the time had come when he and Vajpayee could achieve a 'breakthrough' to settle the dispute. He also termed the year 2004 as 'very significant'. 'The president told us that he was never so hopeful as he is today to get the Kashmir dispute resolved,' a participant at that meeting was quoted as saying.