Wednesday, June 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

A bit more, Powell asks Pakistan

New York, June 11
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said he expected Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to respond in kind to steps taken by India to ease a six-month military standoff between the two countries.

Mr Powell said diplomatic initiatives had helped ease the tension between the neighbours, and led to India saying yesterday it would reopen its airspace to Pakistani flights among other moves. But Mr Powell said the situation remained ‘’very tense.’’

“Pakistan has welcomed these moves, and I expect tomorrow President Musharraf will give us indications of how welcome these moves are,’’ he said in a speech to the Asia Society Annual Dinner yesterday.

“This is a step down the ladder. There is more to do. We are still in a period of crisis. The situation is still very tense.’’

Mr Powell said the USA had worked closely with the European Union, the United Nations and with Russia, China and Britain to tell both sides ‘’that a way must be found to solve this crisis quickly, without conflict.’’

Besides reopening air traffic corridors with Pakistan, Mr Powell said India had indicated it was moving its fleet away from potential confrontation and named a new high commissioner to Pakistan.

“A few weeks ago we got assurances from President Musharraf that he would cease infiltration activity across the Line of Control,’’ Mr Powell said about India’s complaint that Pakistan was allowing Muslim militants based in Pakistan to cross into Jammu and Kashmir.

“We passed those assurances on to the Indian side and then Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage this weekend got further assurances that the cessation of activity would be visible, would be permanent and would be followed by other activities that had to do with the dismantling of the camps,’’ Mr Powell said, referring to training camps in Pakistan used by the militants.

“I’m very pleased that the Indians received these assurances ... and have used those assurances to start to take initial moves that relieved the tensions that exist in the region.’’

Mr Powell said the international response was heartening.

“One lesson of all this is how the international society can come together and recognise the danger and work together to avert the consequences of that danger,’’ he said.

Mr Powell said the USA was dedicated to remaining “engaged’’ through the process.

“That’s why US Defence Secretary Don Rumsfeld, finishing a trip to NATO and the Persian Gulf, will head tomorrow to the region to continue our consultations with both India and Pakistan,’’ he said.

TOKYO: Japan today welcomed India’s decision to reopen its airspace to Pakistani flights, saying that could help ease military tension between the two countries.

“We truly welcome the fact that India has allowed Pakistani aircraft to fly over its skies,’’ Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi told reporters. Reuters 

India gives Pervez diplomatic snub
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
Giving a mild diplomatic chiding to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for his remark that India needed to do more than lifting the ban on overflights to ease Indo-Pakistan tension, New Delhi said today that its yesterday’s announcement was an expression of its desire to reduce tension.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Pakistan should realise that India’s decision to lift the ban on overflights by Pakistani aircraft was a “substantial gesture” reflecting the intention to lower tension and pursue the path of peace.

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