July 2004 News

US rules out mediation on Kashmir issue

17 July 2004
The Hindustan Times
Indo-Asian News Service

Islamabad: Ruling out US mediation on the Kashmir issue, visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has said the ongoing dialogue between India and Pakistan will grow to delve into 'core issues'. 'Sometimes we are able to carry a message or two, but we are not going to get in the middle of this,' Armitage said in an interview with CNN on Friday in Islamabad. 'This is a problem that exists between Pakistan and India, and those two parties have to resolve them,' he said. On Washington's role in South Asia, he said the US was friends with both parties and ruled out mediation in resolving the Kashmir issue. When asked about participation of the Kashmiri people in the peace process, he said when he was in New Delhi the Indian government had indicated it was going to invite all Kashmiri parties for a discussion. 'After all, it is their (Kashmiris) equities that are being discussed. But I think there is a way to go before that happens,' he said. Armitage said going by the mood created by the SAARC working group meetings in the run up to Monday's two-day SAARC foreign ministers meeting here, things could move forward. The process has started and sooner or later it will really start delving into the core issues, he said. India's External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh is expected to have bilateral interaction with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting. To a question about Pakistan's nuclear safeguard, Armitage said that US had worked very rigorously with Islamabad with their willing cooperation to talk about safeguard measures. 'We have had discussions both here and in Washington and we are quite satisfied. We are on a good track,' he added. About the prospect of nuclear technology falling into the hands of terrorists, Armitage said: 'We are concerned about the possibility of nuclear technology from any country falling into the hands of terrorists. 'But I would note the efforts of the government of Pakistan in the AQ Khan situation. The government of Pakistan has been quite transparent with us and is cooperating with us fully, and we re quite satisfied.'


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