Saturday, June 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Britain ready to send troops to monitor LoC
Support to Kashmiris’ ‘struggle’ to continue: Pervez

London, June 7
Agreeing with India on infiltrations from across the border, Britain has said that it, along with America, is ready to send troops to monitor the Line of Control dividing India and Pakistan.

“There has been a general discussion on the need for a practical way of giving both sides reassurances, particularly India, because there have been some infiltrations across the Line of Control and an international monitoring force could be suitable,” Geoff Hoon, British Defence Secretary said.

“We’re willing to look at every option to give Pakistan and India a reason not to launch an attack against each other,” Mr Hoon said according to a report in The Times here today.

The proposal, which is not expected to involve a large number of British troops, is the latest scheme aimed to defuse the confrontation. India has until now rejected an international force and has suggested joint patrols along the Line of Control with Pakistani soldiers.

According to a report in The Guardian, Mr Hoon warned that British forces — already badly overstretched — would only be sent if their mission was clearly defined.

The Guardian report said about 500 helicopter-borne troops would be needed to form a monitoring force, and they would work alongside Indian and Pakistani security forces.

ISLAMABAD: Three days after inking at Almaty a declaration pledging not to support separatist movements, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Friday toed his old line of continuing to support the Kashmiris’ struggle for “self-determination”.

Talking to representatives of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) here today, General Musharraf reiterated the government’s “moral, diplomatic and political support to the indigenous struggle for self-determination of the Kashmiri people”.

“Pakistan wants a just and negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute,” he added.

General Musharraf had on Tuesday signed the declaration and the Almaty Act at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA). According to the Act, “The member states shall not support on the territory of another member state any separatist movement and entities, and if such emerge, not to establish political, economic and other kinds of relations with them.”

The APHC representatives “appreciated” the steps taken by the Pakistan Government for drawing world attention to the Kashmir issue, an official press note said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today said the withdrawal of Indian forces from “aggressive positions” would be the first step towards de-escalation of the tension between the two nuclear neighbours and pave the way for dialogue. PTI, UNI

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