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Powell: U.S. and India 'united on terrorism'

Pakistani forces go on high alert

Powell
Powell is seeking to ease tensions between South Asia's nuclear neighbors  


NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has told his Indian counterpart that the American-led fight against terrorism encompasses all forms of terrorism worldwide, including that faced by India.

Speaking at a news conference following talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, Powell said: "We deplore terrorism wherever it exists, whether on September 11 or on October 1 in Srinagar."

The latter incident referred to by Powell was a suicide bombing at the Kashmiri state assembly, in which 38 people died. India has blamed Kashmiri militants backed by Pakistan for carrying out the attack.

"The United States and India stand united against terrorism and that includes terrorism directed against India as well," Powell said.

He said he agreed with Indian officials who said the problem of terrorism was "not limited to Afghanistan."

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Pakistan's president pledges support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism (October 16)

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Shamshad Ahmad, Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations, tells CNN that most Pakistanis support their government in the fight against terrorism (October 15)

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"I assured them that our efforts are directed against all terrorism," he said.

Powell's short tour of South Asia, with visits to arch rivals Pakistan and India, was intended to bolster solidarity with the U.S. counterterrorism coalition and soothe hostilities between the two nuclear neighbors over the disputed region of Kashmir.

He met Wednesday morning with the home affairs minister, national security adviser and Indian opposition leader Sonia Gandhi before a final meeting of the day with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

On Tuesday, Powell held talks with Pakistani President Gen. l Pervez Musharraf, who has taken on a key support role in the U.S.-led airstrikes over Afghanistan.

Musharraf has agreed to provide the United States with logistical and intelligence support, and has allowed planes to use Pakistani airspace on the way to Afghanistan.

After Powell's meeting with Musharraf, the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington approved a bill lifting economic and military sanctions imposed by the United States on Pakistan in 1999 to punish its military leaders for their coup against the elected government.

The move is seen as a reward for Pakistan's support of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, and follows promises by U.S. President George W. Bush of aid and the waiving of other sanctions imposed after Pakistan's nuclear tests in 1998.

Tensions rise nonetheless

Powell's high-level diplomatic efforts notwithstanding, the temperature between India and Pakistan over the disputed area of Kashmir rose Wednesday. Pakistan placed its troops in the area on high alert, citing what it described as Indian troop movements.

An Indian spokeswoman replied that no troops were on the move and called a Pakistani charges a "complete fabrication."

In a regularly scheduled briefing in Islamabad, Gen. Rashid Qureishi said Pakistan is "ready to thwart any attempt at mischief or misadventure" by India.

"We have information wherein India has moved some troops and relocated some air force assets, which may prove to be a threat," Qureishi said. "This action, when seen in the context of the irresponsible remarks of their newly appointed defense minister and also the unprovoked firing that they resorted to two days earlier against civilians in [Kashmir], as well as across the working boundary, has become a cause of concern."

But the Indian government spokeswoman dismissed Qureishi's assertions.

"We reject such statements in their totality, and restraint should be exercised by the spokesman on the Pakistani side," the spokeswoman said.

The firing to which Qureishi referred took place Monday night, about an hour before Powell arrived for his visit to Pakistan. The Indian Army said it shelled 11 Pakistani military posts across the cease-fire line, destroying them.

An Indian government spokeswoman said the strikes were in retaliation for attacks the night before by Pakistani forces against three power stations, and that India was not trying to escalate the situation along the "line of control" dividing the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled portions of the troubled region.

Pakistani officials in Kashmir said two areas had been attacked and accused India of unprovoked firing on civilians.

Kashmir, which has a majority Muslim population, has been a decades-long source of tension between Indian and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the region.

Shanghai bound

After his talks in India, Powell left for the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group meeting in Shanghai, which culminates with the Leaders' Summit this Saturday and Sunday.

The leaders of 21 Asian and Pacific nations will attend, with terrorism and security issues as well as the global economic fallout from the September 11 attacks expected to dominate the agenda.

Bush also plans to attend the Leaders' Summit in what would be his first overseas engagement since the attacks on New York and Washington.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin are also expected to attend.



 
 
 
 



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