Friday, May 30, 2003
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"We are, in fact, encouraged by recent trends in the relationship between India and Pakistan. I think everybody in the G-8 is encouraged by those trends. I do believe that the core here, the key here, is that India and Pakistan themselves move the relationship forward," the U.S. President's National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said on Wednesday.
"It is not something that can be moved forth by the will of the G-8... But I know that members of the G-8 are welcoming what is happening with the Indians and the Pakistanis," she said while talking about the coming visit of Mr. Bush to Europe that will include the Summit of the Group of Eight in Evian, France.
Dr. Rice also stressed that there was "more to be done" and that the U.S. remained "very engaged" in the subcontinent. "It's not that there isn't more to be done. There is more to be done. And in fact the United States has been very engaged. Secretary (of State) Armitage was out there not too long ago; there will be a lot of other activities and visitors. But this is a time for encouragement on that particular issue," Dr. Rice maintained.
The Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, will also be attending the G-8 meeting in France but the White House has made it clear that there is no bilateral scheduled between Mr. Bush and the Indian leader. "The President is having only one bilateral during this, which is with President Hu Jintao (of China) and of course with his host, President Chirac," Dr. Rice noted.
Dr. Rice said that Mr. Bush had repeatedly spoken to Mr. Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf about the set of issues relating to those two countries. "... We have a broad relationship with Pakistan, just as we have a broad relationship with India. And every time that he (Mr. Bush) talks to Prime Minister Vajpayee or President Musharraf, this is not the only issue on the agenda," she said.
"The issue is how to broaden and deepen our relationship with Pakistan with which we have important counter terrorism issues, important issues concerning Afghanistan, important issues of democratisation in Pakistan. We talk about those things economic development in Pakistan. With India we talk about scientific cooperation and trade, and the fact that this is the world's biggest democracy and we share a lot in value a lot in common and concerning values," she said.
"And so, yes, India and Pakistan are an important part of the agenda, but it's by no means the entire agenda with either India or Pakistan," Dr. Rice said.
The Bush administration will be hearing from India's Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, and Gen. Musharraf, both of whom will be here next month. In fact, giving recognition to the importance of the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan especially in the context of the ongoing war against terrorism, Mr. Bush will be seeing the Pakistani leader at Camp David on June 24.
`No change in Kashmir policy'
Meanwhile, at a briefing, the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said "a political settlement a dialogue that can address all the issues, an eventual political settlement that can be reached by the two sides taking into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir. There is no change in our policy".
He was asked what kind of political settlement the U.S. was talking about in the light of remarks by the State Department that Washington sympathised with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and a CIA map which says "Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir". "I wouldn't draw any particular conclusion from a particular phrase or a map. I suspect that if you look at the history of these things, those things have appeared from time to time in various forms... We do consider that any political settlement needs to be one that is acceptable to the two sides."
Asked whether the State Department held the view that Jammu and Kashmir was an Indian State, Mr. Boucher said, "I will have to get back to you. If you are asking for a precise legal definition, I am not jumping into this one with three feet."
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