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US, India Discuss Kashmir

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States is pressing Pakistan to make good on pledges to curb the infiltration of Muslim militants across the Line of Control into Indian Kashmir. Mr. Powell held talks Monday with Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.

The talks here were largely devoted to laying groundwork for the New York meeting Thursday between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The United States has sent a succession of diplomatic envoys to South Asia since May when India and Pakistan came close to full-scale hostilities over Kashmir.

In a talk with reporters with Mr. Sinha at his side, Mr. Powell said Kashmir was among issues covered and that the United States expects the Pakistani government to live up to stated promises to curb the infiltration of Kashmiri militants that has been a major source of regional tensions.

"I reaffirmed to the minister that we would continue to press the Pakistani government to do everything possible to stop cross-border infiltration and remind them of the commitment that they have made, not only to the United States but to the international community that it would not support such activity, and would work actively to stop it," he said.

Mr. Powell also said the United States has cautioned Pakistan not to meddle in elections in Indian Kashmir later this month.

Officials in India's Jammu and Kashmir state have accused Pakistan of hiring local militants to try to disrupt the legislative assembly voting in the mostly-Muslim region, which begin September 16.

Mr. Powell said he reaffirmed to his Indian counterpart that the U.S. administration has told Pakistan not to interfere "in any way" in the polling, which he said he expects to be conducted in a free and fair manner.

In addition to meeting President Bush in New York, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee will hold talks with several other world leaders and give India's policy speech to the U.N. General Assembly. It will be his first U.S. visit since last November.