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US Officials Urge Political Solution to India-Pak Conflict - 2002-05-26


President Bush issued a strong warning to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf during a press conference in France Sunday to halt cross-border attacks into the disputed Kashmir region between India and Pakistan. Administration officials echoed his statements back home in an effort to head off as an extremely dangerous conflict.

India and Pakistan have a long history of hatred. The most recent provocations by the nuclear-armed nations include Pakistani missile tests in recent days and incursions into the disputed Kashmir region by Pakistani militants.

Pakistan denies responsibility for the Islamic extremists or those that attacked the Indian parliament in December, setting off the latest wave of violence.

White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said Sunday on the television program "Fox News" that she's very concerned about the possibility of war between India and Pakistan.

"Whenever you have two countries that have the history that Pakistan and India have, frankly a history of miscalculation and a history of hostility, you have to be concerned about the escalating tensions over the last month or so: really tensions that began in December with the attack on the Indian parliament," she said.

Speaking on the television program "Late Edition," Secretary of State Colin Powell says he's engaged in almost daily telephone contact with officials in India and Pakistan, trying to diffuse the situation.

"We really do have to find a political solution. The stakes are much too high to see a conflict break out in this part of the world, especially with nuclear-armed nations," he said. "And I'm encouraged that both sides are looking for a political solution. At the same time, however, the rhetoric is rather high and the mobilization (of troops) is at a rather high level. So, anything could happen, and this is the time for all of us to be engaged and we are engaged."

In an effort to calm tensions between India and Pakistan, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will be heading to the region shortly.

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