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US 'Strongly Urges' Americans Leave India, Pakistan - 2002-06-05

The State Department has sharpened its warnings to American citizens in India and Pakistan, again urging them to leave the region because of the danger of increased hostilities between the two South Asian powers. However, Secretary of State Colin Powell says a full-scale war over Kashmir is not inevitable.

Officials here say the language of the travel warnings was made more urgent because American citizens were not taking the previous advisories seriously enough.

In similarly-worded announcements, the State Department said it strongly urges Americans now in Pakistan and India to leave, and warns those considering travel to both countries to defer those plans. The statements say tensions between the two countries have risen to serious levels and the risk of intensified hostilities cannot be ruled out.

The warnings came as the Bush administration stepped up its diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is headed to the region for talks in Pakistan Thursday and India Friday to be followed shortly thereafter by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The U.S. hope is that Pakistani steps stop militants from infiltrating across the "line of control" in Kashmir will be followed by Indian moves to scale back its mobilization. In an NPR radio interview, Secretary Powell said the United States has detected some lessening of activity long the confrontation line, and that while the situation is very dangerous there is "nothing inevitable" about war.