Although there is unlikely to be any direct dialogue between the Indian and Pakistani delegations in Kathmandu, certain progress has been made towards avoiding conflict. The Indian side has hailed the moves taken by Islamabad against Kashmiri expremist groups as being positive.
The Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, declared that “ The steps taken by Islamabad against Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed were welcome”, although he added that “They need to be more determined and to act more in the right direction”. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, for his part, said that “we will be available to dialogue only when terrorism has ended on the frontier”.
Islamabad has declared that the diplomatic moves to ease tension in the area were running well, but that the solution to the crisis would be a movement to withdraw the military forces from the frontiers.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has aided the talks in Kathmandu by calling on both sides to use diplomacy over military action, passing on the contents of his recent talks with President Bush, although he described Kashmir as “a bilateral question between the two countries (India and Pakistan)”.
Tony Blair warned that “if the current situation degenerates, the consequences for the world would be unpredictable”, a reference to the delicate balance in the status quo of regional powers in the whole of Central Asia, in which the unstable situation in Eastern China is included.
John ASHTEAD PRAVDA Ru LONDON UNITED KINGDOM