Tags: U.S. | Tries | Defuse | India-Pakistan | Conflict

U.S. Tries to Defuse India-Pakistan Conflict

Thursday, 23 May 2002 12:00 AM

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage plans to start his diplomatic mission in the subcontinent June 4, according to the State Deparment.

The announcement came as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met his security chiefs, while across the border in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf warned that the two countries were close to a war - grave developments given that both countries are nuclear-armed.

"What we're looking for is a reduction in tension, exercising restraint, reducing violence on both sides and fostering an atmosphere where the two sides can resume a productive dialogue over issues that divide them," said State Department spokesman Phil Reeker.

But back in South Asia, the talk of war persisted.

Vajpayee led a meeting of India's United Command Council in Sarinagar, capital of the disputed Kashmir region, a day after he urged his troops to "be ready for a decisive battle."

In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the National Security Council called for negotiations and vowed to crack down on terrorists, but said the country's armed forces were "ready to repulse any Indian attack."

As the war drums grew louder, the European Union sent its commissioner for external relations, Chris Patten, to the region to try and persuade India and Pakistan not to fight.

The situation forced U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is visiting Moscow with President Bush, to call President Musharraf twice on Thursday.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Thursday described the situation as "unfortunate." Pakistan's contribution to the U.S.-led war on terror was undermined by the tensions on the Indian border, he said.

"They have forces along the Indian borders that we could use along the Afghan border. And it is very unfortunate. And it is a very porous border. It really permits people, the al-Qaeda and Taliban, to move across, and that's unhelpful to us."

Talking to CNN, Rumsfeld said, "When you have two countries that have nuclear weapons, one has to be very careful of the risks and the danger that exists for the people in that country, for the region and the world." Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage plans to start his diplomatic mission in the subcontinent June 4, according to the State Deparment. The announcement came as Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met his security chiefs, while across the border in...
U.S.,Tries,Defuse,India-Pakistan,Conflict
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2002-00-23
Thursday, 23 May 2002 12:00 AM
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