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Vajpayee Blames Musharraf for Failed Agra Summit - 2001-08-07

India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has given his most lengthy statement to date on last month's Agra Summit between New Delhi and Islamabad. Mr. Vajpayee says Pakistan must stop what he describes as "cross-border terrorism" before relations can improve between the two countries.

In what is being called by his aides as Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's final comment on the Agra Summit, Mr. Vajpayee lashed out at Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, saying the Pakistani leader is to blame for the lack of any progress in Agra.

The two men held a series of meetings last month at a hotel overlooking the Taj Mahal, in the historic Indian city. The summit ended in acrimony after neither side could reach agreement on language to be included in a joint statement. At the core of their disagreement was language over the territory of Kashmir, which both countries claim in its entirety.

Speaking in uncharacteristically blunt language before parliament, Mr. Vajpayee said General Musharraf had little understanding of history and ignored long-established diplomatic protocols between the two countries, during his two days in Agra. Mr. Vajpayee said he could have reached an agreement with Pakistan, had former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif been in Agra. Mr. Sharif was ousted in a military coup in late 1999 - six months after holding a summit with Mr. Vajpayee in the Pakistani city, Lahore.

Mr. Vajpayee strongly criticized Pakistan for what he called its continued sponsorship of what he describes as "cross-border terrorism" in the territory of Kashmir. Mr. Vajpayee said Islamabad's sponsorship of "jehadi's" or Islamic militants in Kashmir must come to an end and that India is determined to see that it does. "This must be clear, from the history of the last 53 years, what Pakistan's Army has failed to secure in full-fledged battle, the jehadi's cannot hope to achieve in the hit and run tactics," he said.

Pakistan strongly denies supplying Kashmir separatists with anything more than diplomatic and moral support. More than 35,000 people have died in India's Jammu and Kashmir State, over the past decade, in a separatist insurgency. New Delhi controls two thirds of the territory and Islamabad one third.

Speaking with rare emotion, Mr. Vajpayee said Indians regard Kashmir "as part of their hearts," while Pakistani's consider it a mere "piece of territory." Mr. Vajpayee described as "delusional" any suggestion the estimated 350,000 India security personnel in Kashmir were demoralized or weakened by the continuing insurgency.

India's prime minister said it is becoming increasingly difficult to resolve the issue of Kashmir, while innocent people are being slaughtered in the state. Since the Agra Summit, killings have escalated in Kashmir. Last week, 15 Hindu shepherds where shot to death in a remote part of the state. Police Tuesday announced they had killed the Islamic militant they say is responsible for the killings. They also warn more attacks could come at any time.