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Powell's India Talks to Cover Terrorism, Kashmir - 2001-10-16

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is in India after a visit to Pakistan, to shore up support for the U.S. war on terrorism, now focused on terrorist and military targets in Afghanistan. Mr. Powell will also discuss India's festering dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

Secretary Powell is talking with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bahari Vajpayee and other Indian officials about the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan and the political future there.

In Islamabad on Tuesday, Mr. Powell and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed on the need on the need for a broad-based government in Kabul. "I shared with him, and he shared with me, our thoughts on how to begin the process of rebuilding Afghanistan, even as the military element of our strategy continues," said Mr. Powell, "and how to help the people of that country establish a stable, broad-based government, one that does not harbor terrorists, and one that welcomes refugees instead of producing them."

The United States accuses the ruling Taleban in Kabul of harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida group, the prime suspects in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Another aim of Mr. Powell's talks here will be to urge India to exercise restraint on the issue of Kashmir - a call he also has made to Pakistan's leadership. "Issues must be resolved through peaceful, political, and diplomatic means, not through violence and reliance on force," said the secretary of state.

India and Pakistan exchanged heavy gunfire across the military line of control in Kashmir on Monday, while Mr. Powell was visiting Islamabad.

The United States wants to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors that could disrupt the anti-terrorism campaign.

Mr. Powell and Pakistan's president agreed that a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute is key to better relations between the neighbors. Secretary of State Powell is looking for a similar commitment from India's leadership. He says the United States is ready to help facilitate a dialogue.