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May 29, 1999


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Britain, France, Russia, US will not raise Kargil in UN

George Iype in New Delhi

While the fresh face off between India and Pakistan over the Kargil conflict has nearly killed the historic Lahore Declaration, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government has successfully blocked Islamabad's efforts to internationalise the issue.

In a diplomatic coup, India announced on Saturday that four permanent members -- the United States, Russia, France and the United Kingdom -- of the United Nations Security Council have assured New Delhi that they will not raise the Kargil issue in the apex body.

Prime Minister Vajpayee also positively reciprocated to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief's offer to send his Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz to resume crucial diplomatic negotiations to settle the crisis.

While India is awaiting an official communication from Pakistan to set a date for a diplomatic summit to discuss the Kargil issue, Vajpayee made it very clear that the immediate priority is to continue with the air strikes and clean up the Kargil sector of militants.

At an all party meeting, Vajpayee assured the Opposition that he had rejected Sharief's proposal to halt the air strikes in Kargil to pave the way for talks with Islamabad to resolve the current crisis.

"Stopping the air strikes is not be possible. It cannot be one-sided. You are sending infiltrators and regulars to Kashmir. At the same time, you are also saying to stop action. The question does not arise," Vajpayee told Sharief.

But at the same time, the prime minister said he told his Pakistan counterpart that India is ready for a serious diplomatic dialogue. "We are ready for talks. But there should be no pre-conditions. We will sternly evict the infiltrators," Vajpayee told Sharief.

External affairs ministry officials said India will agree to talks only after the current air strikes are successfully completed. They expect the operation to conclude in the next four days.

Ever since India launched the air strikes to flush out militants in the Kargil sector, Sharief has been using the Kargil route to internationalise the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan lodged strong protests with the United Nations and urged the world body to resolve the crisis before it reached a flashpoint between India and Pakistan.

But in the past two days, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has been solely engaged in countering the Pakistan attempt for international intervention in the Kashmir crisis.

Assisted by Foreign Secretary K Raghunath and other top diplomats, Singh has secured assurances from the four Security Council members that they will not take up the Kargil crisis in the global body.

While UN Security Council members and G-8 member nations recognise Kashmir as a cause of tension between India and Pakistan, MEA officials pointed out that assurances from most members in support of India's air operations will effectively clip Pakistan's efforts to internationalise the Kargil issue.

India made it very clear on Saturday that the country is not planning to take up the matter in the UN as the Kargil conflict is "completely an internal matter."

"India is using effective counter-insurgency operations to flush out militants from the country's own territory. Therefore, there is no need for us to contact the UN at this juncture," an MEA official said.

Singh also talked to most envoys stationed in New Delhi to assure them that there is no need for UN intervention in Kashmir, there is no room for outside mediation and that India is taking all precautionary measures to prevent the escalation into a full-fledged conflict.

MEA officials feel the Kargil crisis has put Pakistan in a tight spot. That is the reason, they say, why Sharief on Friday took the initiative to speak to Vajpayee by phone and offered to send his foreign minister to New Delhi for talks.

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