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Rodgers: Powell's diplomatic mission shifts focus

Walter Rodgers reports from Islamabad, Pakistan.
Walter Rodgers reports from Islamabad, Pakistan.  

(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell continues his diplomatic mission with a visit to New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, where he is expected to address the disputed region of Kashmir.

India and Pakistan are fighting over sovereignty of Kashmir, which is located between the two countries. India has expressed concern over the United States' newfound alliance with Pakistan following Powell's visit to Islamabad.

In a joint news conference with Secretary of State Powell on Monday, Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf expressed his continued support for the U.S.-led global war against terrorism.

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CNN Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers reports from Islamabad with the latest developments.

WALTER RODGERS: Secretary of State Colin Powell's diplomatic mission to Pakistan appears to have been rather successful. He managed to coax an important statement from Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf -- Musharraf saying publicly that Pakistan will stand with the American-led coalition against the Taliban for as long as it takes.

President Gen. Musharraf, because he is the leader of a Muslim country, also added that he hopes it doesn't take too long. Still, that was a very important public statement that Pakistan's support is not wavering because Pakistan borders Afghanistan and it is pivotal to any diplomatic maneuvering in this part of the world. Both Washington and Islamabad are more than sensitive to the fact that the Islamic streets, both here in Pakistan and south of here, in the Arab Middle East, are not too keen on this American war on what they see as Muslim peoples in Afghanistan.

So it was clear from the news conference that both Musharraf and Secretary Powell both really wanted to move beyond the military bombing now, and focus on the shape of the south-Asian continent after the bombing concludes.

Earlier, President Gen. Musharraf said, "Our decision to support the international campaign against terrorism, in all its manifestations, is based on principles."

Secretary of State Colin Powell added, "As a result of the actions taken by Pakistan over the last five weeks, we truly are at the beginning of a strengthened relationship, a relationship that will grow and thrive in the months and years ahead."

Secretary Powell has now moved on to India. That's because the wild card in this diplomatic deck continues to be Kashmir -- the disputed province claimed by India, (and) claimed by Pakistan.

Last night the Indians fired mortar shells into Pakistan. That appeared to be some diplomatic message from the capital Delhi that the Indians are not going to let themselves be eclipsed by the American's newfound friendship with Pakistan or the war against the Taliban. India wants the Kashmir issue front and center... the Indians are going to give Secretary Powell an earful on the Kashmir issue.


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