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Powell In New Delhi for Talks On Afghanistan and - 2001-10-16


U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell is in New Delhi to shore up support for the U-S military campaign in Afghanistan and to address rising tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.

Secretary Powell is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh.

Mr. Powell traveled to India from Islamabad, where he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf agreed on the need for a broad-based democratic government in Afghanistan.

Both said they believe there are moderate elements in the Taleban that could help govern Afghanistan within a broad coalition, which would include members of the opposition Northern Alliance and former King Zahir Shah. Secretary Powell said he agreed with General Musharraf that any future Afghan government must be friendly to its neighbors.

Secretary Powell and General Musharraf also said they believe a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Kashmir is central to improving relations between India and Pakistan.

But hours before Mr. Powell's arrival in New Delhi, the Indian foreign ministry contradicted his remarks, saying the present situation in Kashmir is the consequence of state-sponsored terrorism and not the cause. A spokeswoman said terrorism sponsored by Pakistan is the problem, and not Kashmir itself.

Monday, India and Pakistan exchanged heavy gunfire across the military line of control in Kashmir. This prompted U-S President George Bush to urge both countries to exercise restraint, especially during the current anti-terrorist campaign.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes said New Delhi ordered the firing across the military line of control in Kashmir as a punitive action against intrusions. Defense Minister Fernandes said his country will be ruthless in dealing with all infiltrators who cross into Indian Kashmir from Pakistan.

On October first in Srinagar, a suicide bomber killed 38 people at the Jammu-Kashmir state assembly building.

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