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US: There are 'Indications' Pakistan is Tackling Infiltration Problem - 2002-05-31


The United States says it has indications Pakistan has begun moving to crack down on the infiltration of militants across the "line of control" into Indian Kashmir. The Bush administration has been seeking such action to help defuse the South Asian military confrontation.

The Bush administration has been pressing the Pakistani government to back up its pledges to tackle the infiltration problem with action. And now it says there are signs that such a move may be underway.

Echoing remarks by Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday in a broadcast interview, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the United States has "indications" that instructions have gone out from Islamabad for action against the militants, though it is premature to say if infiltration has stopped.

"We have watched for the results on the ground. And we're still looking for confirmation of the results on the ground," he said. "As the secretary said, it's still too early to say that the infiltration across the line of control has stopped and that when it's stopped, it will be permanent. But we do have some indications that Pakistani authorities have issued instructions to try to make that happen."

A senior official said the instructions the spokesman referred to were communications between Pakistani authorities and security forces in the region, though he refused to say how the information had been acquired.

In a briefing for reporters, Mr. Boucher reiterated the U.S. hope and expectation that if Pakistan acted on the infiltration problem, India would reciprocate with steps of its own to pull back from the threat of a full-scale war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

"Consequences could be disastrous, so it's very important for us as we work on this crisis that all the parties exercise restraint, that indeed that we see from Pakistan the carrying out of pledges that President Musharraf has made," stressed Mr. Boucher. "But we also want the Indians to show restraint and be ready to reciprocate with actions once we start seeing the end to the infiltration that were looking for from Pakistan."

The Bush administration is hoping that an intensive round of major-power diplomacy beginning next week can make headway in scaling back South Asian tensions.

That starts Monday in Kazakhstan's main city Almaty with a 16-nation regional summit of CICA - the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to have separate meetings there with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bhari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to try to encourage a resumption of direct dialogue between the sides.

Next Thursday and Friday, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visits Islamabad and New Delhi for crisis talks, to be followed a few days later by a similar troubleshooting mission by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

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