Tags: India | Rules | Out | Vajpayee-Musharraf | Meeting

India Rules Out Vajpayee-Musharraf Meeting

Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM

"We don't see any possibility of such a meeting," a spokeswoman for India's Foreign Ministry told reporters.

The two nuclear-capable rivals, India and Pakistan, are at the brink of a war with more than a million troops positioned on their common border and heavy shelling reported between the two sides in Kashmir.

India has, however, sought a meeting between Vajpayee and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, or CICA, to be held in Almaty from June 2-4.

But the spokeswoman said India was not looking to Russia to mediate in the ongoing military standoff between New Delhi and Islamabad.

India and Russia were in constant touch at the levels of foreign ministers and ambassadors, the Press Trust of India quoted the spokeswoman as saying.

She said Russia had recently asked Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists in Kashmir.

Besides Russia, India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Palestinians and Uzbekistan would attend the CICA.

Washington has stepped up its diplomatic efforts in the subcontinent to pull India and Pakistan back from a potential military conflict.

The Bush administration is sending Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage to the region next week.

"There is a significant amount of concern, not only in the United States but internationally, about reducing tensions between India and Pakistan," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

President George W. Bush said Thursday that the United States is making it "very clear to both Pakistan and India that war will not serve their interests. And we're a part of a international coalition applying pressure to both parties, particularly to President Musharraf.

"He must stop the incursions across the line of control [the de facto border that divides the two countries in Kashmir]; he must do so. He said he would do so.

"We and others are making it clear to him that he must live up to his word," Bush said.

India says its patience is running out against Islamabad's constant support of Islamic rebels groups in Kashmir. The latest spate of crisis erupted in the region following a series of attacks on Indian military camps that New Delhi blames on terrorist groups allegedly based in Pakistan.

Pakistan has condemned terrorist activity in Indian Kashmir but says it would continue to provide moral and diplomatic support to the mujahedin, or fighters.

A day after threatening to unleash a storm if Indian forces attacked Pakistan, Musharraf said Thursday that he would do his best to avoid a war.

"All that I can do is give my own assurance that we will try to avoid conflict," Musharraf said. "It will be the utmost endeavor to avoid conflict.

"I have been saying all along that conflict will only take place here if it is initiated by India," he told reporters. "We will not be the initiators. This is my guarantee."

Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of Kashmir and have fought two wars over the Himalayan region.

Both conducted nuclear tests four years ago, sparking fears in the international community that any conflict between the arch-foe neighbors may erupt into a nuclear war.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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We don't see any possibility of such a meeting, a spokeswoman for India's Foreign Ministry told reporters. The two nuclear-capable rivals, India and Pakistan, are at the brink of a war with more than a million troops positioned on their common border and heavy shelling...
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Friday, 31 May 2002 12:00 AM
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