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India and Pakistan May Have Peaceful Future - 2003-05-09


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says the United States hopes recent peace moves by India and Pakistan will lead to a resumption of talks between the nuclear rivals. VOA-TV’s Jim Bertel reports.

Richard Armitage, the Bush administration’s key official for south Asian diplomacy, says he is encouraged by recent exchanges between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan, the first high level contacts in more than a year.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
"I will pronounce myself as cautiously optimistic that we’re at the beginning of what might be a very good process. Seems to be a certain confidence in Pakistan, a certain confidence in India about the ability to address all aspects of a relationship. And I think that's a very good basis on which to move forward."

One of the key sticking points remains what India says is Pakistan’s support for militants fighting in Kashmir. Mr. Armitage says Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told him there are no militant training camps in Pakistani Kashmir.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
“President Musharraf gave an absolute assurance that there was nothing happening across the Line of Control and there were no camps in Azad Kashmir and if there were camps, they would be gone tomorrow."

Mr. Armitage’s mission to south Asia comes after a series of reciprocal steps to ease tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.

When asked about the nuclear arms race in south Asia, Mr. Armitage said talks on disarmament would come in time.

RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
“There have been I think a series of confidence building measures, political and economical, before two states who have had been in such a general confrontational stance can be expected to make far reaching decisions on matters of arms control.”

Arms control in the region was dealt a setback Thursday when Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee rejected a Pakistani call for nuclear disarmament in south Asia. Mr. Vajpayee was responding to an offer Pakistani President Musharraf had made on Sunday to make south Asia nuclear weapons-free once the Kashmir dispute is resolved.

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