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Tuesday, September 22, 1998
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Clinton speaks on Kashmir

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 21 (PTI and Reuters) — US President Bill Clinton today asked for the resolution of "ancient animosities" in Kashmir and Sri Lanka which were killing innocent people, and said a united international effort was a must to combat terrorism afflicting all parts of the world.

Mr Clinton said people nowhere were safe from the threat of terrorists. Not even "the people in Kashmir and Sri Lanka killed by ancient animosities that cry out for resolution."

In an otherwise listless speech to the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly, Mr Clinton spoke about Kashmir and Sri Lanka while stressing that terrorism was a world wide phenomenon and no nation was safe from it.

He called on the world to put the fight against terrorism at the top of its agenda but stressed the cause of the problem was not a conflict between Islamic civilisation and the West.

He said: "Some people believe that terrorism’s principal fault line centres on an inevitable clash of civilisations... Between western civilisation and western values and Islamic civilisation and values. I believe this view is terribly wrong."

Declaring that "terrorism is at the top of America’s agenda and should be at the top of the world agenda," he listed a series of measures the international community should take to combat extremist violence, including enforcing ban on biological and chemical weapons, controlling the export of explosives, raising airport security standards and easing extradition.

Mr Clinton listed Iran among the nations where he said innocent people had been victims of terrorism, alongside Israel, the Palestinians, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Northern Ireland, Japan and Argentina.

While there were those who might use any religion to justify political objectives, "even cold-blooded murder," he said: "that is not our understanding of Islam."

He noted that there were some 1,200 mosques and Islamic centres in the USA and said: "The 6 million Muslims who worship there will tell you there is no inherent clash between Islam and America."

Meanwhile, the summit meeting between Mr Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today failed to produce any major breakthrough even as Washington urged Islamabad to enhance a dialogue with India to resolve various issues facing them, including Kashmir.

During a half-an-hour meeting with Mr Sharif on the sidelines of the session, Mr Clinton promised Pakistan all help towards entering into a dialogue with India, Pakistani sources said.

Mr Sharif assured Mr Clinton that Pakistan was interested in promoting a dialogue and referred to his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, scheduled for Wednesday.

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