October 2004 News

British Army Chief For 'peaceful Settlement' Of Kashmir

20 October 2004
The Asian Age

Chandimandir Cantonment,: The Chief of General Staff of the British Army, General Sir Mike Jackson, on Wednesday, called for a 'peaceful settlement' of the Kashmir tangle. On a visit to the headquarters of India's main operational military command - Western Army Command - at Chandimandir in Haryana, Gen. Jackson told reporters at a news conference that 'the United Kingdom would like to see India and Pakistan settle the Kashmir question amicably.' He was however, quick to clarify, 'Kashmir and the LoC is not a matter for UK other than to urge both parties to do whatever is possible to avoid what has happened in the past.' Gen. Jackson's comments ahead of his official visit to the highly contentious Line of Control are being viewed as 'considerably significant.' According to Western Army Commander, Lt. Gen. J. J. Singh, the British Army Chief will visit one forward post on the LoC and will interact with formation commanders at their respective headquarters. Gen. Jackson said the LoC visit on Thursday, would be 'a learning experience,' since he would see the ground situation first hand and also have the opportunity to 'talk to the people responsible for security.' India and the UK have evolved cooperative mechanism through a defence consultative group, which meets every year. The group is comprised of a number of military sub-groups, which also meet regularly to discuss the scope for enhancing the military-to-military cooperation and the mutual benefit of this for both the armies. Besides this, the two armies are actively looking at collaborations in the development of high technology equipment, including weapon systems. The initiative is part of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's joint declaration on enhancing mutual cooperation. Britain's Army Chief, General Jackson described the situation in Iraq as 'a considerable challenge.' The General said, 'I do believe that we must do all we can to achieve a far better future for Iraq than its past has been over the last few years.' Admitting that as many as 68 British soldiers had been killed in Iraq the general disclosed, 'no time limit has been put down on how long British troops will remain in Iraq. This depends on the conditions and the way events go.' Referring to the slated elections in January next year [2005] and another round of polls under a new Iraqi Constitution a year after that, he said, 'We will have to see how all of this goes.' General Jackson said, 'There are elements in Iraq that apparently do not wish to see a new, moving-forward Iraq.


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