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Top US Envoy says India, Pakistan Making Progress in Kashmir Dispute - 2004-07-14

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says he believes India and Pakistan are growing more confident of the peace process intended to end years of tension over the disputed region of Kashmir. Mr. Armitage is in the Indian capital for the first high-level U.S. visit to New Delhi since its new government came to power in May.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage described the on-going violence in Kashmir as unacceptable. But he says both India and Pakistan are eager to put an end to the fighting.

"I would say that from what I have heard here in India, the process which is on-going between Pakistan and India, the composite dialogue is one that seems to find great favor here,? Mr. Armitage said. ?I am sure I will hear the same thing on the Pakistani side. And I think as we continue forward, you'll find more and more confidence being developed on both sides."

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, a region that is divided between them. A cease-fire has been in effect for more than seven months while the two governments participate in peace talks. But fighting continues to flare between Indian troops and Muslim insurgents that New Delhi charges use Pakistan as a base to operate against its forces.

The deputy secretary of state is the first high-ranking U.S. official to visit India since its new government came to power in a surprise election victory in May.

On the agenda for talks were regional issues and Iraq, where India has refused to send troops.

Mr. Armitage says he did not make any requests of India to send troops to Iraq during this visit. He also rejected the suggestion that the United States has been isolated diplomatically by the Iraq war.

"You would note, I am sure, to be fair that the Australian government has made the decision to send some more troops in, that King Abdullah of Jordan has offered Jordanian troops in the last several days," Mr. Armitage said.

Mr. Armitage is expected to visit Pakistan for the second leg of his 10-day visit to the South and Central Asia and the Middle East.