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Powell to Stop in India, Pakistan

Diplomacy: Secretary of State will attempt to help ease tensions between the nuclear-armed nations. He urges cooperation from both leaders.

January 10, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Wednesday that he will visit India and Pakistan next week, and he asked India's home affairs minister to help work out a solution to a 4-week-old crisis between the two nuclear-capable neighbors.

Powell, who visited the two countries in October and has made countless telephone calls to their leaders in recent weeks, will visit India and Pakistan en route to Japan, where he will attend a meeting to discuss the reconstruction of Afghanistan, aides said.

Relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since a Dec. 13 attack on the Parliament in New Delhi that killed 14 people, including the attackers. India has blamed the assault on Islamic extremists opposed to Indian rule in Kashmir, a Himalayan region claimed by both nations. The tensions have led to a buildup of forces along the nations' border, a downgrading of diplomatic relations and the end of transportation service between the countries.

Powell signaled his understanding of the Indian position by calling on Pakistan to take "appropriate action" against 20 suspects alleged to have been involved in terrorist actions against India. The Indian government has called for the extradition of the men.

Echoing President Bush, Powell praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for taking action against Islamic militants in his country. But, Powell said, "there is room for additional work on his part."

Aides said Powell also has urged Indian Home Affairs Minister Lal Krishna Advani to be understanding of the difficulties Musharraf faces in moving against terrorists in Pakistan.

Advani, who has taken a hard line on the Pakistan issue, is a key figure in the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

After meeting with Powell, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and CIA Director George J. Tenet in Washington on Wednesday, Advani repeated Indian arguments that Pakistan has not done enough to halt terrorist attacks. Infiltrators continue to pour into India from Pakistan to carry out sabotage and terrorism, he said.

"Pakistan could shut off the flow of infiltrators at any time," he said at a news conference.

In contrast, Advani said, India has shown "immense restraint" in dealing with its neighbor. "India has not taken a single step that could be regarded as a provocation," he said.

He called on Pakistan to close all terrorist facilities on its soil, halt infiltration of terrorists and their arms, and renounce terrorism "in all its manifestations."

Advani called the United States and India "the twin towers of democracy" and said both nations have become victims of terrorism. He reaffirmed India's policy of not being the first to use nuclear weapons.

Continuing his telephone diplomacy, Powell called Musharraf on Tuesday and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh on Wednesday.

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