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May 31, 2002
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Bush's two-step strategy on Kashmir

T V Parasuram in Washington

The United States is contemplating a two-step strategy on Kashmir and the Indo-Pak situation -- first to ease the tension and second to see whether there can be a solution that both parties can agree on.

This was stated by White House press secretary Ari Fleischer on Thursday, who declined to comment on whether the US favoured an independent Kashmir.

Asked about the possibility of a nuclear war, he said: "The US views any type of war as a dangerous situation. That is why the US is making every effort to stop war of any type."

When asked if Pakistan had test-fired missiles as an insurance policy against an Indian attack, Fleischer said Secretary of State Colin Powell had already stated that the tests were not helpful.

The US focus, said Fleischer, is on the broader issue, regardless of "what military capability you have, and whether people are testing it or not testing it, or deploying, not deploying, the whole situation, across the board, involving militarisation needs to be calmed down. And that is the purpose of our efforts there".

He firmly rejected the theory that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf cannot stop cross-border infiltration even if he wants to.

"Pakistan has a robust military force, and the ability internally to take action to prevent terrorists from crossing through the Line of Control. And it is important to take the steps necessary to prevent terrorists or would-be terrorists from crossing the line and engaging in terrorist or hostile acts," Fleischer said.

"The immediate priority [is] to reduce the tension. What is important now is for the world to join together and bring it back down again, and that is underway," he said.

On the Kashmir issue, Fleicher said, "It is an important part of any solution that both parties agree to, that the concerns of the Kashmiri people are reflected. But I wouldn't go beyond that and endorse any one specific plan like that. Any ideas that can be long-lasting and meaningful needs to be accepted by both parties."

Asked if the two countries have deployed nuclear weapons, Fleischer said that nobody has discussed any of that information with him.

On the possibility of reducing the number of US diplomats in New Delhi in the current situation, Fleischer recalled that in response to the events in March, the US has already taken action vis--vis US diplomatic personnel and non-essential personnel in Pakistan.

PTI

Terrorism Strikes in Jammu: The complete coverage

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