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July 29, 1999
Ackerman opposes call for 'special envoy' for Kashmir
Prominent Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman last night wrote to United States President Bill Clinton urging rejection of the call for the appointment of a 'special envoy' in the state department to deal with the contentious Kashmir issue.
''In fact, our naming a special envoy or seeking an enhanced role for the United Nations will be clearly seen as external meddling in India's domestic affairs. In other words, Mr President any such move will have the opposite of the intended effect,'' he said.
Ackerman, co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, in his letter, said that the situation in Kashmir can best be resolved by discussions between India and Pakistan as envisioned in the 1972 Simla Agreement.
''It is in this spirit that the path-breaking Lahore declaration was issued last February in which the prime ministers of India and Pakistan had agreed that their respective governments shall intensify their efforts to resolve all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,'' he added.
Ackerman recalled the previous commitments to address the issue of Kashmir on a bilateral basis and said, ''I do not believe that internationalisation of the Kashmir question is warranted. Nor do I believe that the United States needs a special envoy to Kashmir.''
While commending the administration for its recent handling of the incursion by Pakistani fighters on to the Indian side of the Line of Control, he urged the president to reject calls to strength the United Nations observer mission in the region.
''I do not believe that expansion of the UN observer mission in Kashmir is necessary. I believe that such steps only reward Pakistan for its aggression and would do nothing to further efforts toward peace in South Asia,'' the letter added.
''Mr President, as your recent phone conversation with Prime Minister A B Vajpayee shows, the United States and India are on the cusp of a new relationship. There is much in common that we share with the world's most populous democracy. There are many issues that bind our relations with India,'' Ackerman argued.
Referring to last weekend's successful meeting between US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in Singapore, he said, ''I believe, it sets the right tone and direction in shaping our two nations' relations.''
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