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June 29, 1999
US clueless about 'Pak PM visit'
C K Arora in Washington
The Bill Clinton administration has made it clear that the General Anthony Zinni mission to Islamabad was not an attempt at the US mediation between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Washington reiterated that it would like the issue to be settled directly by the two countries themselves.
''This must be done directly between India and Pakistan. The United States is not a mediator nor have we offered any specific solution for resolving this dispute,'' state department spokesman James Rubin said, setting at rest doubts raised in certain quarters about the mission.
''We are urging the two sides to talk to each other to resolve this dispute,'' he remarked during his press briefing yesterday.
In reply to a question, Rubin said he had no information about the report that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief might arrive in Washington for talks with President Clinton. Since it was about the visit of a prime minister, the question should be directed to the White House, he added.
Later, a White House spokesman also pleaded ignorance about the visit.
In reply to another question, Rubin clarified that the US had not proposed any delay in the grant of loans by international financial institutions to Pakistan as a kind of pressure to make Islamabad withdraw its troops from the Indian side of Kashmir.
He said General Anthony Zinni, commander-in-chief of the US central command, had 'productive' talks with Sharief and other officials in Pakistan late last week.
When asked to explain the term 'productive', Rubin said he did not want to go into the terms 'productive and constructive'.
Asked whether the Pakistanis, during their discussions with General Zinni, had indicated that they would withdraw their troops from the Indian side, he said, ''I would not want to comment on the specific aspects of those discussions. We are focussed on the rapid diplomatic resolution of the crisis between the two parties.''
''It is certainly our hope that following the resolution of this crisis there can be a quick revival of the Lahore process which is a process we strongly support. I would not be able to get into what Pakistan said in our private diplomatic exchanges,'' he said.
When asked to comment on media reports that most of the insurgents in Kargil were controlled by regular Pakistani soldiers, he said, ''I don't have any thing to say about the composition of the forces there.''
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