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Musharraf Hopes Russia Can Help Ease India-Pakistan Tensions - 2003-02-06

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, concluding a three-day visit to Moscow, says he hopes Russia can help ease tensions between Pakistan and India.

Mr. Musharraf said he hopes Russia, because of its improving relations with Pakistan, will be well-placed to help resolve conflicts between Pakistan and India, Russia's long-standing ally.

Mr. Musharraf specifically mentioned Kashmir, which for years been a flashpoint between the two countries. Both claim the region as their own.

Mr. Musharraf's visit to Moscow was the first by a Pakistani leader in more than 30 years.

On Wednesday, after talks with Mr. Musharraf, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the visit would promote stronger bilateral relations.

But the Russian leader made clear that the new relationship with Pakistan would not come at the expense of Moscow's good relations with its traditional ally, India.

While Mr. Musharraf's visit centered on bilateral relations, the issue of a possible war with Iraq was also discussed.

During the news conference Thursday, Mr. Musharraf expressed concern about a possible war against Iraq, saying it could incite negative public reaction in Pakistan.

The Pakistani leader also said he did not have any information about allegations made by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that Iraq used its embassy in Pakistan to maintain ties with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Mr. Powell made the allegations Wednesday, during his address to the United Nations.