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Hopes Increase for India-Pakistan Summit - 2003-06-01


The recent warming of ties between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan has raised hopes for a summit between their two leaders. Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes told the concluding session of the Asia Security Conference both countries are pursuing a number of confidence-building measures.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said there is slow movement toward holding a summit meeting of the leaders of India and Pakistan.

His comments came at the end of a two-day conference of defense ministers, military chiefs and analysts in Singapore.

No date has been set, but Mr. Fernandes said something "very, very positive" is happening in the subcontinent. He pointed to the positive response from Islamabad and the international community to the Indian prime minister's effort to repair ties in April.

Mr. Fernandes said the two nations are in the process of building confidence. They have fought two wars over the disputed region of Kashmir and were on the brink of a third after Islamic militants attacked India's Parliament in December 2001. "The situation on the Indian subcontinent has radically altered from what it was when we met last year here," Mr. Fernandes said.

Like many other delegates at the conference, Mr. Fernandes was critical of the United States and its attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the United States is prepared to exercise its military power unilaterally or in small coalitions, ignoring the experience and advice of others.

The delegates at the conference spent much of the day discussing the problem of regional terrorism and finding ways to combat militant groups.

The region has seen dozens of bombing attacks in the past year. Last October's bombing of tourist night spots on Bali killed two hundred people, and a series of blasts in the southern Philippines have caused more than 200 deaths this year. The attacks are blamed on several Islamic militant groups.

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