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June 10, 1999
Pakistan 'frantically' wooing China
George Iype in New Delhi
As India and Pakistan get ready to engage in diplomacy on Saturday in an attempt to defuse escalating tension on the border, China has emerged as the key player in the Kargil crisis.
In a last-ditch attempt to win over diplomatic support from its "friendly ally" China, Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz will hold crucial consultations with Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan on Friday before rushing to Delhi.
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh along with a high level delegation will leave for Beijing on Sunday, a day after his talks with Aziz.
Officials who are preparing for the Aziz-Singh dialogue termed the Aziz-Jiaxuan talks as "a frantic effort from Pakistan" to woo China on the eve of the Indo-Pak foreign ministers summit.
"Pakistan has failed miserably to muster international support on the Kargil issue. Therefore, the Nawaz Sharief government is trying very hard to win over at least China," an official commented.
Ministry of external affairs officials are certain that the Kashmir dispute and particularly the conflict in Kargil will be Aziz's top priority during his parleys in Beijing. "Pakistan hopes if China supports them, Aziz's New Delhi mission will be easy," the official added.
Four United Nations Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, France and Russia -- have not so far entertained Pakistan's pleas to take up the Kargil issue in the apex world body.
Aziz's main agenda, therefore, will be to compel China, the fifth UN Security Council member, to take up the Kargil issue in the international forum.
But India does not expect China to come out in support of Pakistan on Kargil at this juncture, especially since international opinion on the issue has been in India's favour.
India hopes the Pakistan foreign minister will return home "embarrassed" after his dialogue with Singh on Saturday.
This would be the right time for India to improve its relations with China, though Singh's visit to Beijing was planned well in advance.
Given the possibility that the Indo-Pak dialogue will not yield any results, Islamabad is now getting ready to chalk out its post-dialogue strategy.
MEA officials anticipate that from next week on, Pakistan could launch a two-pronged strategy: escalate tension throughout the Line of Control and then internationalise the problem.
To ensure that China remains its best friend against India, Sharief himself will take up the post-talks strategy. Sharief is scheduled to visit Beijing from June 28 to July 4.
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