Saturday, August 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

India gives clear message to Armitage
Pakistan must stop exporting terrorism
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 23
Using diplomatic symbolism, India today sent a loud and clear message to the USA of its unhappiness when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not meet Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage even though Americans expected such a meeting.

However, in view of this and the absence of Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, who are currently abroad, New Delhi fielded its two next most important people in the government: Defence Minister George Fernandes and Principal Secretary to the PM and National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra.

Both of them minced no words in telling Mr Armitage that the international community must ensure that Pakistan keeps its promise made to the USA that it will put a complete and permanent stop to exporting terrorism to India.

They said India had announced three de-escalatory steps vis-a-vis Pakistan in June only on his assurances that Pakistan would stop using terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy and now that Pakistan has reneged on its promises, Washington tackle the Musharraf regime accordingly.

Mr Armitage also held discussions with Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal for two hours.

The Indian leadership told Mr Armitage categorically that Pakistan was hell bent upon sabotaging the September-October elections in Jammu and Kashmir. During his hour-long talks, Mr Fernandes pointed out to Mr Armitage that over the past few weeks the security forces in J&K had intercepted a plethora of wireless conversations between militants and their masters across the Line of Control (LoC) which clearly showed Pakistan was exhorting the militants to derail the poll process in the state. The issue of cross-border terrorism in the context of J&K also figured prominently during the talks. Mr Fernandes is understood to have cited five attempts this week alone by militants to sneak across the LoC.

In these meetings, there was focus on bilateral ties and regional and international security issues. On China, both sides apprised each other of the status of their respective bilateral relations. On Afghanistan, Mr Sibal briefed Mr Armitage on Mr Yashwant Sinha’s recent visit to Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif.

The Defence Minister told Mr Armitage pointblank that if Pakistan did not stop its activities to push in militants, it would be hard for New Delhi to ease any border deployment.

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