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Terrorist camps still exist, Armitage tells Pakistan

K J M Varma in Islamabad | July 15, 2004 17:01 IST

In a balancing act, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage today maintained that all terrorist camps in Pakistan have not been dismantled while observing that human rights violations existed in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I was correctly quoted yesterday (in New Delhi) when I just noted that all terrorist camps have not been dismantled," in Pakistan, Armitage, who arrived here last night, said after holding talks with Pakistani leaders, including interim Prime Minister Shujaat Hussain, Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri.

His statement assumes significance as during his visit here last year Armitage had said he was told by Pakistani officials that there were no terrorist camps and even if there were any, 'they would disappear tomorrow.'

Addressing a joint press conference with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar, he said some violence in Jammu and  Kashmir was also indigenous.

"But it has to be noted that there are lots of different kind of violence, some across the LoC, other indigenous. It all must be stopped so the people of Jammu and Kashmir can have a prosperous life and prosperous future, and that is US policy," he said.

Asked about alleged human rights violation by Indian security forces in Kashmir, Armitage said "there is absolutely no question that there is violence and violation of human right in Kashmir. We have discussed this with our Indian friends" during his talks in New Delhi yesterday. 

Armitage, who apologised yesterday to former Indian defence minister George Fernandes for the "strip-searching" incident during an official visit to US, also conveyed his  apologies to those Pakistani officials who were treated in
similar way in the United States.

Pakistani media had earlier reported that former press secretary to President Pervez Musharraf and defence spokesman Maj Gen Rashid Qureshi and other officials were subjected to a "strip-search" when they visited US along with Musharraf.

"I did apologise to my friend George Fernandes. High ranking officials who travelled (to US) and treated in such fashion deserve apology," he said.

"The question is how much security is wanted, how to have open and secure borders. It is very difficult thing, as we move forward we will try. I am sorry for the inconvenience caused. Once we finally prevail in this global war on terrorism, these kind of inconveniences will disappear," he said.

Armitage also played down reports that his visit here was aimed at persuading Pakistan to send troops to Iraq.

"We have not made any request and it is upto Pakistan to make up its mind on these matters. I only briefed the Foreign Secretary how the interim government is going in Iraq and what we are doing there," he said.

Armitage's visit comes three days after Pakistan's US Ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi was named as Special UN envoy to Iraq. Pakistan has already made it clear that appointment of Qazi was in no way linked to sending of troops to Iraq.

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