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June 9, 1999
Kissinger has private meeting with Advani
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The visit this afternoon of former United States secretary of state Henry Kissinger to the North Block office of Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani has created some suspense in connection with the impending Indo-Pak talks to end the Kargil conflict.
But Kissinger maintained that he was on a "private visit" and too much should not be read into his brief meeting with the home minister.
He arrived at Advani's office at 1500 IST accompanied by an aide. After television crews jostled one another to 'capture' the two dignitaries shaking hands, they had a private meeting for about 20 minutes.
Kissinger did not disclose what transpired in the meeting.
But he ruled out the possibility of the US intervening in the conflict. "The US would not like to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir as India does not want the US's advice," he stated.
Asked whether the US would at least initiate peace talks, he stressed, "The US is not interested in being an arbitrator in Kashmir."
Kissinger then made his way to Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha's office, also located in North Block.
Senior officials of the external affairs ministry refused to comment on Kissinger's meeting with Advani and Sinha, or even to speculate on the timing of his visit.
But cautious optimism prevailed among ministry officials known for their expertise on Pakistan.
Welcoming the statement yesterday of Clinton administration official Bruce Reidel that the Line of Control in Kashmir had been demarcated over the years and the infiltrators from Pakistan must go back, they said, "We are happy that the US, like the rest of the international community, has recognised that Pakistan is the aggressor. The intruders have to vacate their positions and India is determined to ensure this."
They emphasised that the Indian stand on the conflict, coupled with New Delhi's diplomatic offensive, had begun having the desired results. Hence, Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, who is arriving in New Delhi on June 12 for talks with External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, will have no scope to discuss any subject other than the infiltration.
They said Pakistan was caught on a sticky wicket as its blatant aggression had been recognised and condemned by the international community.
But whether Islamabad, which has consistently encouraged trans-border terrorism, heeds the call of the international community is another matter.
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