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US Urges India, Pakistan to Take Steps to Reduce Kashmir Violence - 2004-07-15


The United States is again urging both India and Pakistan to take steps to reduce the violence plaguing the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.

During a trip to the region, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage urged India to improve the human rights situation in Kashmir, and urged Pakistan to dismantle remaining terrorist training camps. The senior U.S. diplomat's visit comes ahead of peace talks between the two countries later this month.

After holding discussions Wednesday with Indian leaders, Mr. Armitage met Thursday with Pakistani officials to discuss the coming peace talks on Kashmir.

The long-running dispute between Pakistan and India focuses on the mountain territory, which each side claims as its own.

India accuses Pakistan of sending militants across the Line of Control, which separates the two sides, in order to oppose New Delhi's rule in its part of Kashmir.

Pakistan, meanwhile, points to allegations that India is abusing the human rights of Kashmiris in the territory.

Speaking Thursday in Islamabad, Mr. Armitage said both sides have a responsibility to improve the situation and address each other's concerns as the talks progress.

"It has to be noted that there are lots of different kinds of violence. There's some across the LoC [the military line of control dividing Kashmir] violence," he said. "There is other indigenous violence. It all should stop so the people of Jammu and Kashmir can have a prosperous life, a prosperous future."

Pakistani officials quickly disputed Mr. Armitage's remarks. They say that Pakistan has outlawed militant Islamic groups that India claimed were fomenting the insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir. Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also gave a commitment earlier this year to the then-Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, that no one would be allowed to use Pakistani soil for terrorist activities in Kashmir. Mr. Khan said his country is "disappointed" that Mr. Armitage did not acknowledge the measures Pakistan has taken.

"There are no terrorist training camps in Pakistan. There is no [militant] infrastructure here. We think that this statement or the assessment by Mr. Armitage is based on faulty information and intelligence."

Mr. Khan added that while Pakistan appreciates Washington's support for the peace process, the United States should maintain what he called a "balanced view" in South Asia.

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