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Bush, Putin Urge Indian and Pakistan to Cut Tensions


A day after signing a landmark arms reduction treaty, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin are focusing on cutting tensions in South Asia. They appealed to India and Pakistan to resolve their differences peacefully.

It was a joint effort at diplomacy.

During a visit to St. Petersburg's famous Hermitage Museum, Presidents Bush and Putin were asked about escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. President Putin urged leaders of the two countries to join him at a regional meeting already scheduled to take place early next month in Kazakhstan.

"I do hope they will come, and there would be an opportunity for us to discuss things," Mr. Putin said.

For his part, President Bush urged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to follow through on his promise to stop Islamic militants from attacking Indian-controlled Kashmir. "It is very important for President Musharraf to stop - do what he said he is going to do in his speech on terror, and that is stop the incursions across the line of control. It is important that the Indians know he is going to fulfill that promise," Mr. Bush said.

Both Presidents Bush and Putin stressed that they are working together to help keep the situation in the region from getting worse. Mr. Bush said they are carrying a message of peace, saying India and Pakistan must understand that there is no benefit to a clash that could lead to a broader war.

Later, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called on both sides to think carefully before inflaming the situation. He said the Pakistani missile test conducted earlier Saturday, while announced in advance, came at a bad time. "I don't think it was a particularly useful thing to do right now, even though I don't think it causes us to get any closer to conflict," Mr. Powell said.

All the same, Mr. Powell admits he is as concerned now as he was back in January, when tensions peaked between India and Pakistan, and there were fears the two countries might go to war.

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