|HOME | NEWS | THE KARGIL CRISIS | REPORT|
July 5, 1999
Clinton, Sharief agree on 'concrete steps'
Vaishali Honawar in Washington
At a hastily arranged meeting with United States President Bill Clinton that lasted three hours Sunday, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief agreed that the current India-Pakistan situation was "dangerous with a potential for wider conflict," and warranted the withdrawal of 700-odd Pakistani infiltrators from across the Line of Control.
The two leaders agreed that it was vital that India and Pakistan respect the LoC in Kashmir to maintain peace in South Asia. In a joint statement issued after the meeting, they said "concrete steps" toward restoring the sanctity of the LoC in accordance with the 1972 Simla Accord would be taken, and these would include the return of Pakistani troops from across the cease-fire line.
"Our understanding is there will be a withdrawal of forces by Pakistan," an administration official said at a press briefing at the White House following the meeting, adding that while no time-frame had been decided, President Clinton and Prime Minister Sharief "have a sense of urgency" about resolving the crisis. According to the statement, President Clinton "urged an immediate cessation of hostilities once these steps are taken."
The meeting took place at Blair House, behind the White House. President Clinton took time off from the Fourth of July holiday activity to meet the Pakistani prime minister who seemed to be on an SOS mission after India threatened to take severe action to reclaim the Kargil region which has been infiltrated by Pakistani troops and Islamic militants.
Sharief called Clinton Saturday morning to request the meeting. Clinton then called Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee before giving Sharief the go-ahead. Vajpayee, an administration official said, refused an invitation to join the talks.
The leaders of the two countries met between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm. While delegations from both sides, including US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, were present for most of the talks, Clinton and Sharief spoke one-on-one for about 15 minutes. During a break in the meeting, Clinton telephoned Vajpayee to brief him on the talks.
After the meeting, National Security Adviser Samuel R Berger called his Indian counterpart Brajesh Mishra to give him a final account of the talks.
Clinton's interest in resolving the India-Pakistan impasse despite India's repeated insistence on a bilateral solution is not surprising. The US has been increasingly concerned over the conflict between the two countries since they went nuclear a little over a year ago.
Media reports here over the past few weeks of tension between India and Pakistan have repeatedly hinted at the spectre of a nuclear war in the region. According to the statement, Clinton reaffirmed at the meeting his intention to visit South Asia in the near future.
The statement said Clinton and Sharief "agreed that the bilateral dialogue begun in Lahore in February provides the best forum for resolving all issues dividing India and Pakistan, including Kashmir."
It added that Clinton would take a "personal interest" in encouraging an "expeditious resumption and intensification of those bilateral efforts, once the sanctity of the LoC has been fully restored."
BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL RESERVATIONS | WORLD CUP 99
EDUCATION | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | FEEDBACK