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Home > News > Report

Armitage's troops request to be shot down

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | July 13, 2004 18:39 IST

The thorny issue of Kashmir will figure in the talks between US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage and the Indian leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a ministry of external affairs official indicated on Tuesday.

He said with the militant attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma on Tuesday, the militancy in the violence-prone state would come up for discussion with the senior US official, who has maintained that his country would not 'intervene' but 'facilitate' India and Pakistan to find a lasting solution to the problem.

He said the government was aware about the Kashmir militants' efforts to draw attention to the state by resorting to violence whenever a senior US official came visiting.

However, with both New Delhi and Islamabad inclined to solve outstanding issues bilaterally, such militant activity was unlikely to affect the Indian leadership's resolve in this context, he said.

Both countries, the official revealed, were looking at ways to modify their rigid stands on the Kashmir issue. He said minor concessions may be made by both countries to break the ice

The official said Armitage had made it clear to both India and Pakistan that Washington did not have a roadmap for the solution of the Kashmir issue. The deputy secretary of state will go to Islamabad from New Delhi.

On June 24, US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca had told the house committee on international relations that the US was not mediating on the Kashmir issue, but supporting both India and Pakistan to solve all outstanding issues bilaterally.

Rocca also dwelt on what she described as Indo-US regional and bilateral issues, mentioning the next step in strategic partnership (NSSP ) designed to deepen the relationship. Under this initiative, the two countries are expanding cooperation in 'civilian nuclear activities, civilian space programmes, high technology trade and an expanded dialogue on missile defence'.

The official was categorical that India will not send troops to Iraq. External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh had already told
Parliament that there was no question of Indian troops being sent to Iraq. "That is where the matter stands," the official said.

Besides the prime minister, Armitage will also call on Natwar Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

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