Sunday, May 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Terror must end, India tells US
PM’s peace initiative will pave way for peace: Armitage
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 10
Contrary to forward movement in Indo-Pak relations on the diplomatic front, the political ties between the two estranged neighbours seemed to continue to be in a state of logjam and the 21-hour-long visit of the US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage today did precious little in reversing this trend.

Well placed sources here told The Tribune that the Vajpayee government today categorically told Mr Armitage that it would not resume dialogue with Islamabad until that country put a complete, and permanent, stop to cross-border terrorism.

Mr Armitage, on his part, remarked that he was “cautiously optimistic” as far as the Indo-Pak ties were concerned and lauded Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s latest peace initiative saying it could to lead to step by step progress for improvement of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Significantly, unlike his visit to the subcontinent exactly a year ago Mr Armitage did not bring any message from Pakistan this time nor did he carry any message for Islamabad from the Vajpayee government, sources said. This fact conveys two things: first, India focussed more on bilateral Indo-US relations during this visit rather than Indo-Pak relations; and secondly, India demonstrated that it was not game for third-party intervention or mediation on the vexed issue.

India has noted carefully the nuances of Mr Armitage’s brief pre-departure interaction with journalists at the airport where he had stated that Washington wanted that “all violence must end”. Like in Islamabad, here too Mr Armitage has preferred to use the word “violence” instead of “terrorism”.

The differences between New Delhi and Washington on the perception of terrorism could not have come out so vividly and starkly as it did in two back-to-back press conferences by Mr Armitage and Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Navtej Sarna. While Mr Armitage quoted President George W Bush’s statement that “A terrorist is a terrorist, is a terrorist”, the MEA spokesman wryly remarked: “Any terrorism is too much terrorism”.

During his “extensive” talks with the Indian leadership such as Mr Vajpayee, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi and Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal, India outlined the following “must do’s” for Pakistan to resume dialogue:

* Pakistan must put a complete and permanent stop to cross border terrorism and infiltration of terrorists.

* Pakistan must dismantle all its infrastructure of terrorism, like terrorist training camps and communication links.

* Pakistan must stop financing the terror networks and put a stop to collection of funds for these outfits which has been going on almost openly.

According to the MEA, there was “complete convergence” between India and the USA on the need to strongly deal with terrorist outfits like Lashkar -e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

India shared with Mr Armitage all the latest assessments of different ministries and agencies on terrorist training camps being run in Occupied Kashmir and the activities of terrorist outfits in Pakistan.

During his talks with Mr Advani, Mr Armitage extended an invitation on behalf of US Vice-President Dick Cheney for Mr Advani to visit the USA. Sources said Mr Advani has accepted the invitation and is likely to leave for Washington on June 8.

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