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Bush Urges India, Pakistan to Show Restraint - 2002-05-26


Wrapping up a visit to Russia Sunday, U.S. President George W. Bush called on leaders of Pakistan and India to show restraint amid rising tensions, and he said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has let his people down.

The U.S. leader said he had strong reservations about a series of missile tests conducted by Pakistan, but he asked India not to view the tests as a provocation. He noted that both countries are nuclear powers, and said everyone understands the serious consequences should the situation escalate. Tensions between Pakistan and India have increased recently over the disputed Kashmir region.

In comments to reporters in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, President Bush also said Palestinian leader Arafat had "let his people down." The American president said Mr. Arafat had an opportunity to bring about peace when former U.S. President Bill Clinton was in office, but failed to do so.

President Bush was responding to questions about a New York Times report that his administration is debating whether to press Mr. Arafat to step down.

The comments came as President Bush wrapped up a three day visit to Russia. The highlight of the trip came on Friday, when Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty reducing nuclear arms.

Under the agreement, each side will reduce its country's nuclear arsenal to about 2,000 warheads apiece.

On Saturday, the president and his wife flew to the northern city of St. Petersburg, President Putin's hometown. The St. Petersburg part of the trip focused more on culture and art than on politics.

Saturday night the two presidents and their wives took a boat trip around the city's canals on an evening that ended with a fireworks display.

On Sunday, the two presidents toured the Russian museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Russian art. Later in the day, Mr. and Mrs. Bush attended an Orthodox Church service at the Kazan Cathedral. The two then visited a Jewish synagogue.

After visiting the synagogue, President Bush said he was happy to see that freedom of religion is flourishing in Russia.

Presidents Bush and Putin will see each other again on Tuesday, when they both travel to Rome for a NATO meeting.