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Britain, India Reaffirm Anti-Terrorism Cooperation - 2001-11-12

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and British Prime Minister Tony Blair held talks in London Monday on the situation in Afghanistan and on the wider war on terrorism.

The two leaders discussed a range of issues at the British prime minister's official London residence, but according to Mr. Blair, the general theme was strengthening the fight against terrorism around the world. "It is important, as we both agreed, that we maintain the strongest possible coalition in the fight against international terrorism in all its forms," Mr. Blair said. "And, I would like to pay tribute to the Indian government for the strength of their role in this international coalition, which has been greatly appreciated by everybody."

Both leaders agreed that a broad-based government, including representatives from all of Afghanistan's ethnic groups, should succeed the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan.

Mr. Vajpayee said there must be firm plans for the future governance and reconstruction of Afghanistan, warning that a political vacuum would only worsen matters.

Mr. Blair, who made a brief stop in New Delhi last month, said he would make a longer visit to India early next year.

His spokesman said that in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Prime Minister Blair believes there is now an opportunity to resolve some of the deep-rooted issues and differences that have been the cause of many conflicts around the world, including Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.