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September 16, 2000
US clarifies its 'core' description of Kashmir
Ramesh Arora in Washington
The United States administration has denied that President Bill Clinton's description of Kashmir being the 'core' of differences between India and Pakistan indicated any change in the US stance on the issue.
In a briefing at the White House, Bruce Riedel, director, Near East and South Asian Affairs, admitted that the word 'core' was frequently used by Pakistanis while discussing Kashmir.
However, he said, the US position was as laid out earlier by Clinton when he was in New Delhi and Islamabad: restraint on both sides, respect for the Line of Control, denunciation of violence and return to a dialogue by India and Pakistan when the atmosphere was conducive.
"We regard Kashmir as an important issue between India and Pakistan, one of the central issues that obviously needs to be resolved. But I think to read into the President's use of the word 'core' any tilt whatsoever would be a mistake," the official said.
"We have been concerned about connections between some elements in Pakistan, and what goes on in Kashmir. We do believe that Pakistan has a role to play, both in resolving the Kashmir problem and in helping to defuse tension," Riedel said.
"We have been urging Pakistan for some time to take steps to reduce the level of violence. We have seen some encouraging steps in the months since March -- the release of prisoners by India, the ceasefire by the militants and India's response to it and some reduction in activity along the Line of Control. It is not enough. We need to see both parties take steps to try bring about a reduction in the level of violence."
Riedel said Clinton, at his meeting with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, reaffirmed the fundamental US view that there was no military solution to this problem and it must be resolved through dialogue, both between India and Pakistan and elements in Kashmir.
"Ultimately, we hope in a renewal of dialogue that Mr Vajpayee so bravely pushed forward in his trip to Lahore," he added.
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