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June 24, 1999
State Department official to visit Delhi after Islamabad
Amberish K Diwanji in New Delhi
United States Assistant Secretary of State Gibson Lanpher will visit India after finishing with his meetings in Islamabad.
Lanpher is currently accompanying Marine General Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of the US central command, on a visit to Islamabad to discuss the situation in Kargil and prevent escalation of the conflict.
The MEA was at pains to point out that Lanpher's visit would in no way mean that India was allowing the Kashmir dispute to be internationalised.
"The Kashmir dispute can and will be settled only by bilateral discussions," said the ministry's spokesperson, Joint Secretary Raminder Singh Jassal. "The Lahore Declaration too makes the same point."
Jassal said Lanpher's visit would be in the nature of a briefing. "We are an open, democratic society, with diplomatic links with several nations. Lanpher's visit must be seen in that light," he said. "We will use it to explain our priorities and position."
He said the US had requested that Lanpher be allowed to visit New Delhi to discuss their meeting with the Pakistanis. "He is coming to Delhi only to tell us what transpired [in Islamabad]," Jassal said.
A date for the visit is yet to be fixed, but it may take place some time next week. Incidentally, that is when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief is due to visit China.
Referring to New Delhi's rebuff to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's offer a few years ago to send an envoy to India to try and resolve the Kashmir dispute, Jassal said, "That was an attempt at mediation. Lanpher will only brief us."
He added that India still envisions a larger relationship with Pakistan. "We have a composite dialogue going on, we do seek friendship, and once the intruders are thrown out, we may consider possibilities of resuming such a relationship."
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