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June 5, 1999
'Strong' US support for Indo-Pak talks on Kargil
C K Arora in Washington
The Bill Clinton administration has extended its 'strong' support to the proposed talks between Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz and his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh to defuse the 'war-like' situation in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
''We strongly support talks between India and Pakistan to resolve this latest dispute, and believe these talks should take place as soon as possible,'' state department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday.
''We cannot confirm a date for the talks, but we understand a meeting could be held soon,'' he added.
However, according to a report from the region, India yesterday received a formal Pakistani proposal to send Aziz to New Delhi on Monday and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's response is still awaited.
Rubin said, ''Ending the fighting in the Kargil area can only be accomplished through direct engagement by India and Pakistan. We remain in touch with the Indian and Pakistani governments to express our strong concern, to urge them to show restraint and prevent the fighting from spreading, and to urge both countries to work together to reduce tensions.''
At the White House, its spokesman Joe Lockhart said, ''Diplomatic efforts, including high-level diplomatic contacts, are on. As I've reported to you before, the president has written to both leaders (Prime Minister Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief) urging restraint, but that's all I have as an update,'' he added.
''We have seen press reports of claims by a militant group based in Pakistan that Afghans had joined its forces in the Kargil area. Other press reports from India claim that large numbers of Afghan and other infiltrators are waiting to cross the Line of Control,'' he added.
Rubin, however, said he was not in a position to confirm either of these reports.
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