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Pakistan, Indian Ambassasors to US Sound Off on Conflict - 2002-06-02


Intensive diplomatic efforts are underway to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, and the two countries say they want to avoid a nuclear conflict. The Indian and Pakistani ambassadors to Washington discussed the crisis on a U.S. television talk show Sunday.

With more than one-million troops amassed along their common border, there is growing concern about the possibility of war between the two nuclear-armed countries.

Appearing on the television program "Fox News Sunday," Indian Ambassador Lalit Mansingh said going to war with Pakistan is a last resort for India. "For the last six months, we've been exercising the diplomatic option. Now, we're coming to a stage we're running out of these diplomatic options. That's why it's important for Pakistan to listen to what President Bush and other world leaders are saying, stop the export of world terrorism into India."

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has offered to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bejarhi Vajpayee. But the Indian prime minister says he has no plans to meet with the Pakistani president, until he sees evidence that Pakistan has stopped what India calls the cross-border infiltration of Islamic militants into Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies aiding the militants, but says it will work to stop them from crossing into Indian territory.

In a separate appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, said President Musharraf has cracked down on the militants. "There is no cross-border infiltration. And the orders he gave in January are being complied (with) and are being implemented," he said. "There is no state patronage or government patronage of any cross-border movement."

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to meet with both leaders during a regional summit this week in Kazhakstan in an effort to defuse tensions, but a face-to-face meeting between Mr. Musharraf and Mr. Vajpayee is unlikely.

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