Friday, July 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM unlikely to meet Powell
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is unlikely to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell when he comes here for a 24-hour visit on July 27, indicating that nothing tangible or concrete is expected from the visit.

This diplomatic symbolism is part of the Vajpayee government’s recent policy that the visiting foreign dignitaries have to be conveyed a message that Pakistan has done little to address India’s major concerns, well-placed sources told The Tribune here today.

However, Mr Powell is likely to meet two strongmen of the Vajpayee government — Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and Principal Secretary to the PM and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra — a privilege which not granted to British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who came here last week.

Mr Straw could meet only External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha — twice on two consecutive days. Mr Powell will also meet Mr Sinha on July 27 and the Indo-US delegation-level talks will be held the same day.

The sources said while obviously the Indo-Pak tension would dominate talks between Mr Powell and the Indian leadership, New Delhi was going to take up some specific issues very strongly with Mr Powell.

India will categorically tell Mr Powell that when New Delhi had announced certain steps to de-escalate tension, it had been done on the basis of assurances given by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on behalf of Pakistan. However, Pakistan had not implemented these pledges, and had even gone back on its promises and continued with cross-border terrorism.

India would tell the USA to make sure that Pakistan delivered on its promise to end cross-border infiltration and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism operating against India.

India would also take up the issue of a possible resumption of arms supply from the USA to Pakistan. The Ministry of External Affairs today admitted that India was concerned about the possibility of resumption of US weapons’ supply to Pakistan. “We are concerned about the offensive capability of Pakistan. We’re closely monitoring it because Pakistan uses it to promote its aggressive designs against India,” a spokesperson for the MEA said.

The issue of interrogation of Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister during the Taliban regime, Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, in the IC-814 hijack case was also likely to figure during the talks.

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