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China Appeals to India, Pakistan for Restraint - 2002-06-06

China urges India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, as tension between the South Asian countries escalates. China's diplomatic efforts have done little to reduce hostility between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

China is increasingly anxious about the prospect of war breaking out between India and Pakistan. A conflict on China's southwestern border would upset the delicate diplomatic balance Beijing has reached with New Delhi and Islamabad.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao tells reporters in Beijing Thursday that as the largest neighbor of India and Pakistan, China is concerned about continuing tensions. He says Beijing calls on both countries to exercise restraint. He urges the South Asian nations to use dialogue to resolve their differences, saying it would be good for peace and stability.

The spokesman says Chinese President Jiang Zemin met Tuesday with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. The leaders were attending an Asian summit in Kazakhstan. He adds Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan has since briefed Indian and Pakistani officials on China's talks with both countries.

Despite diplomatic efforts by China and other countries, there are few signs that India and Pakistan are backing away from a potential war. Mr. Jiang failed to persuade Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Musharraf to hold face-to-face talks in Kazakhstan.

China and Pakistan have a decades-long alliance, and Beijing has supplied Islamabad with weapons. China and Pakistan both have fought wars with India in the past. But Beijing has improved its ties with New Delhi in recent years. Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji paid a state visit to the Indian capital several months ago, and assured India that Beijing posed no threat to its interests.