Friday, May 09, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
At a time when the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, is in the subcontinent and India's National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, is here for two days of extensive talks, the State Department has said that the U.S. would like to see "renewed engagement" between India and Pakistan that would lead to a reduction in tensions and an end to violence in Kashmir.
The State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, was asked to comment on the latest attack in Kashmir especially in the light of Mr. Armitage's trip and whether this was a setback to the rapprochement that Washington was so positive about last week. "... We strongly believe that violence will not solve Kashmir's problems. We want to see it end. We have welcomed Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's recent bold offer to renew talks and by Pakistan's positive responses. We want to see further steps along these lines," he said.
"We'll encourage such measures during Deputy Secretary Armitage's visit to the region this week and in further senior level contacts with Pakistan and India. We would like to see renewed engagement between India and Pakistan leading to a reduction in tensions, an end to violence in Kashmir and progress towards resolution of their differences," Mr. Boucher added.
China, Japan hail initiative
P.S. Suryanarayana reports from Singapore:
China and Japan have joined the other major powers in welcoming the incipient signs of a new thaw on the India-Pakistan diplomatic front. Coinciding with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage's current visit to the South Asian subcontinent, China today underlined that it would "expect'' India and Pakistan to "resolve their differences through a peaceful dialogue''.
Japan saw the unfolding developments, directly involving India and Pakistan, as "positive'' progress towards the possibility of improved relations between those two countries. At a news conference in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhang Qiyue, justified her country's concerns in this regard by pointing out that "both India and Pakistan are China's neighbours''. China was, therefore, particularly "pleased'' to note that both those countries had not only expressed their willingness to improve their ties at this stage but also indicated their readiness to "take concrete measures'' towards this end. She emphasised China's "hope'' in this context that the South Asian countries would make "concerted efforts to safeguard and promote the region's peace, stability and development''.
The Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi, not only took note of the perceived new "positive'' trends on the India-Pakistan scene but also welcomed Islamabad's determination to convene a summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in an atmosphere of such a bilateral spirit.
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