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US Welcomes India, Pakistan Commitment to Troop Withdrawal - 2002-10-17

The United States Thursday welcomed the commitments by India and Pakistan to pull troops back from their common border and urged further steps to defuse tensions over Kashmir.

The Bush administration had made confidence-building steps between India and Pakistan a major thrust of its diplomacy in the wake of the Kashmir crisis that nearly led to full scale war last May. And the announcements of troop withdrawals, first made by India and matched by Pakistan, drew a warm welcome from State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"We've long been concerned about the tensions that are generated by a high state of mobilization along the border and the "Line of Control" in Kashmir," he said. "The announced reductions will lead to a lessening of those tensions and risks. We urge both countries to continue these steps to reduce the threat of conflict and create an atmosphere allowing a resumption of dialogue."

Mr. Boucher said Secretary of State Colin Powell, who made trouble-shooting visits to both countries in July, telephoned Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha Thursday to welcome the withdrawals and urge additional steps to ease tensions.