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World - Asia/Pacific

Pakistan, India, try to resolve Kashmir differences


In this story:

25 dead in latest fighting

'Line of control' not negotiable

RELATED STORIES, SITESicon



June 12, 1999
Web posted at: 3:56 a.m. EDT (0756 GMT)

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz is in New Delhi Saturday for talks aimed at ending a military confrontation in Kashmir.

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against the visit, and security was tight.

The atmosphere before the talks was chilly, as India accused accusing Pakistan of torturing six Indian soldiers whose bodies were returned earlier in the week, and vowed the only subject for the talks was Pakistan's end to intrusion.

Pakistan has denied the Indian accusation of torture, saying the charge of mutilation was an attempt to derail the talks.

The foreign ministers of the nuclear-capable neighbors were scheduled to sit down in a colonial-era building in New Delhi at about noon (0630 GMT) to discuss what India says is large-scale infiltration by the Pakistani army and Islamic militants.

Pakistan denies its troops are involved in an incursion and says it provides moral and diplomatic support to what it calls Kashmiri "freedom fighters."

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since independence in 1947 and the current fighting is the worst since their last full-fledged war in 1971.

25 dead in latest fighting

Indian forces launched the 18th day of "Operation Vijay" (victory) against infiltrators in Indian Kashmir. Indian officials said troops had recaptured a key hilltop in the Batalik sector after fierce fighting on Friday.

State-run All India Radio said the Indian army killed 25 Pakistanis in Friday's fighting.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz, due to arrive in New Delhi in mid-morning, made a quick trip to Beijing on Friday for consultations and said long-time ally China had endorsed Islamabad's bid for a negotiated settlement to the crisis.

India also made public what it said were the transcripts of two intercepted telephone calls between senior Pakistani Army generals discussing the incursions across the 720-km (445-mile) Line of Control dividing Kashmir.

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said the tapes raised "serious doubts about the professed aim of defusing tensions."

The Hindu newspaper quoted Aziz as saying more talks would be required to resolve the crisis.

"These things cannot be sorted out in one meeting," Aziz told the newspaper on returning from Beijing.

Indian newspapers predicted the talks between Singh and Aziz would fail.

"The long shadow of the tortured bodies of six Indian soldiers that hangs over the talks between India and Pakistan has ensured that the so-called talks have ended before it has begun," the Indian Express newspaper said.

'Line of control' not negotiable

The Hindustan Times said the two ministers' task had been rendered "virtually intractable."

But Western experts were not so gloomy.

"Despite all the hype surrounding the events in Kargil and despite the escalatory use of airpower, India has demonstrated a continued strategic disdain for Pakistan," said Gerald Segal, director of studies at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, writing in the Hindu on Saturday.

"Such disdain is constructive," he added. "It essentially argues that India will deal with the insurgents in its own time and in its own way, and without driving Pakistan into a corner."

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Friday said Aziz would be told that Pakistan should order the guerrillas out of Kashmir and warned there would be no compromise.

"The Line of Control is not negotiable," he said, referring to the border the neighbors agreed in the 1972 Simla Agreement.

Farooq Abdullah, chief minister of India's Jammu and Kashmir state, said late on Friday the people of his province wanted a decisive war with Pakistan to settle the issue.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Indian minister says Pakistan tortured, killed soldiers
June 11, 1999
India and Pakistan agree to weekend peace talks
June 8, 1999
Hopes for diplomacy recede in Kashmir conflict
June 7, 1999
India resumes airstrikes, ground attacks in Kashmir
June 6, 1999
India delays peace talks amid Pakistan border fighting
Diplomatic efforts stall in Kashmir fighting
June 4, 1999

RELATED SITES:
India Monitor
     •Kashmir
Contemporary conflicts: Kashmir
Kashmir News Reports
Pakistan Link - The Internet Edition
Kashmir Information Network
The Government of Pakistan
Indian Ministry of External Affairs
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