Saturday, June 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India rules out foreign troops for Kashmir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 14
Putting all speculation to rest Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh today categorically ruled out the possibility of allowing troops from the USA or any other country in Kashmir with a purpose of either fighting the Al-Qaida operatives or monitoring the infiltration from across the border.

The Foreign Minister however, confirmed that India was discussing with the USA the proposal to install ground sensors to effectively monitor the movements along the Line of Control (LoC).

“There is no proposal for any forces from any country other than the Indian forces on the LoC, Mr Jaswant Singh said after a 90-minute meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) at the Prime Minister’s residence here.

He said the CCS had taken certain important decisions, but regretted that he was unable to share them with the media. “The situation is pregnant with possibilities...we are waiting for the right moment”, he added.

To a question, the minister admitted that India was discussing with the USA a proposal to put ground sensors for effective monitoring of the border. “The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the USA are studying the issue...however, no final decision has been taken in the matter,” the minister said.

This is the first meeting of the CCS following the reduction in tension between India and Pakistan after New Delhi lifted the air embargo on Pakistan and recalled its warships in the Arabian Sea to their peace-time positions.

The meeting, presided over by the Prime Minister, was attended by Home Minister, L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K.C. Pant, Defence Secretary Yogendra Narain and senior civil and military officials.

Mr Jaswant Singh virtually confirmed the appointment of Senior Diplomat Harsh Bhasin as India’s new High Commissioner to Pakistan. Stating that newspapers had already been reporting on the appointment, he said, “no date has been decided” for sending the High Commissioner to Islamabad.

On persistent queries on Mr Bhasin being appointed as the new High Commissioner to Islamabad, Mr Jaswant Singh said: “We have not snapped diplomatic ties with Pakistan...our diplomatic relations are intact...whenever a decision is taken to send the new High Commissioner, he will go to Islamabad.”

On whether infiltration had come down, the Foreign Minister said India was collecting relevant data in this regard. The Defence Ministry was monitoring the situation on a daily basis. “Once we get the full data, we will let you know,” he added.

Referring to Mr Rumsfeld’s suggestion to India and Pakistan to resume talks, the minister said, “ India has always stood for a dialogue, but for it to be held, a conducive atmosphere has to be created.”

In this connection, he recalled that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had announced a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir to create a congenial atmosphere for talks. “We are examining all actions and will take appropriate decisions,” he said.

On whether India proposed to take some more confidence-building measures, he said, “the situation is pregnant with possibilities.”

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