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'We Do Plan To Stay Engaged'

But, clarifies the US Secretary of State, "the principal role we'll be playing is a facilitator of dialogue. We don't intend to mediate this dispute. The dispute can only be resolved between the two parties."

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'We Do Plan To Stay Engaged'
Relevant Excerpts from the Press Briefing on Board Plane: Us Secretary of State Colin L. Powell En Route Whistler, Canada, June 12, 2002

Question: What's going on in India and Pakistan, Mr. Secretary?

Colin Powell: Let me put it in perspective for you. We are pleased at the progress that has been made, especially in the last four or five days. And a lot has happened over the last three weeks, really, beginning when it became clear that it needed a solid assurance directly from Pakistan that they would be ending incursions across the line of control and they would be taking other actions to reduce that kind of activity or the potential for that kind of activity. Those assurances were communicated by us directly to the Indians.

And then we began to wait for appropriate responses to be put in place. We then wanted to make sure that the Indians needed to have the assurance that this was not just a temporary cessation, but it would be a permanent cessation of activity across the line of control. Meanwhile, we had put in place a series of visits, and it really has been internationalized--Chris Patten, Jack Straw, my UK colleague, and then Rich Armitage was set up weeks ago to go this past weekend. And then Don Rumsfeld, who was in the region. He and I discussed it and it seemed like a very useful thing for him to continue his trip and be part of the continuing rush of senior diplomats into the region.

And then things began to pick up speed when we got a sense of the Indian response. And then when Rich was there last weekend, he was able to give them assurances from President Musharraf that it would be a permanent cessation. And in response to that, in a phone call I made to Foreign Minister Singh over the weekend, they announced that they found what the Pakistanis said to be an important step forward. That was their public statement on Sunday, I believe it was, after I talked to Singh and as Rich was putting all this in place.

And then within a day or two they made it known that they had picked their new High Commissioner to go back to Pakistan at some point in the future. They were moving their fleets back toward home base, and they were restoring commercial air traffic. You may remember that that is one of the first things they shut down, and removing their High Commissioner. So it's kind of the exact, you know, last -- well, LIFO, for those of you who took an accounting course sometime ago. They took these steps that were really the first time a step was going down rather than going up. So we have received all that with great interest and with satisfaction. Now what we have to do is steadily move forward to keep these steps going in the right direction, recognizing that for this to keep moving in the right direction both sides will have to take steps and both sides recognize that as we de-escalate, hopefully can keep the de-escalation going. A dialogue will have to take place in due course between the two sides, starting out at some level, but ultimately facilitating a discussion between the two sides on Kashmir. And we are committed to that dialogue, and I've said that to both the Indian and the Pakistani side. So I'm glad to see that political and diplomatic efforts have worked and it's been a great and, frankly, international effort where we all coordinated with one another. The Almaty conference in Kazakhstan where (inaudible) and President Ziang Zemin spoke to both leaders. Before that conference, all of us had spoken to one another to make sure consistent messages were being given. So let's hope we're moving in the right direction. I would not, however, expect to see a total withdrawal in the immediate future. I think it probably will take some months. It may well be after the elections in September before you really get back to the status quo.

Question: Just to follow up on India and Pakistan, did you make any commitment -- did you make any commitment to Pakistan that you would be moving -- and what -- what ways would be trying to facilitate this dialogue? Right. It appears that Pakistan expects that, as a result of your intervention into this conflict, they are expecting down the road some sustained US involvement in helping resolve the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan. What sort of commitments have you given to Pakistan to continue to keep the pressure on this area?

Colin Powell: I've told President Musharraf and I've told Foreign Minister Singh, and the President, I think, has also communicated, in his conversations, that we do plan to stay engaged. We just don't want to see any end to the current crisis and then wait for the same problem to raise the crisis again at some point in the future. So we'll stay engaged. But the principal role we'll be playing is a facilitator of dialogue. We don't intend to mediate this dispute. The dispute can only be resolved between the two parties. To the extent that we now have, frankly, excellent relations, US to Pakistan and US to India, I think that the United States, working with our international partners as we have in this current crisis, we can play a role in facilitating a dialogue between the two sides. And I have committed to them that we would stay engaged to see if we can bring that about and then stay with it. And that is our intention, and I'm already starting to structure our thinking and structure my staff to participate in such efforts.

Question: Was that a factor in President Musharraf 's decision, saying that he would call to a permanent end to the excursions?

Colin Powell: I don't want to put words or thoughts in President Musharraf 's mind, except to say that I think he was pleased that we had made such (inaudible). Okay? All right?

Relevant Excerpts from the Press Availability -- US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Chateau Whistler Hotel, Whistler, Canada, June 12, 2002

Then, finally, on India/Pakistan and the situation there, I thank all my colleagues for the work they have done along side of us in talking to the Pakistanis and the Indians to impress upon them the need to find a political solution, and we're all gratified that in the last several days we have seen some steps to diffuse this crisis; some beginning steps. The tension is still there, the danger is still there, but the assurances that President Musharraf gave to us and, in turn, passed on to the Indian government, conveyed earlier by the administration and this past weekend reaffirmed by Deputy Secretary Armitage, that these would be permanent changes, permanent ending of the line of control, infiltration and crossings, and I think we now are moving in the right direction with the reciprocal steps that the Indians have taken.

Secretary Rumsfeld did meetings in New Delhi and is now in Islamabad where he'll meet with Pakistani officials, and I look forward to getting reports from Don of those conversations.

So with that, I will take your questions for a few moments. Todd?

Question: Do you (inaudible)?

Colin Powell : We all said that. It is important for us to remain engaged. And an important point we all agreed upon is that once this current crisis has been brought to some culminating point, we come back down this ladder of escalation. As we come down this ladder of escalation, we have to find ways to begin the dialogue between the two sides. There was absolute agreement that we don't want to go through this again, and the way to avoid going through this again is to meet our commitments that we have made to two sides that we would work and use our good offices to create the opportunity for dialogue between the two sides; dialogue that must ultimately lead to a discussion of Kashmir and find a solution to Kashmir.

Question: You said it would take a couple of months before the troops pull back in India and Pakistan. Why is that and what will it take before you (inaudible)?

Colin Powell : If things go along in the right way and in the right direction, I think we'll see a number of steps taken in the days and weeks ahead. But my sensing at this point is that some time will have to pass to make both sides comfortable in the actions of the other side before you'll see a complete demobilization of the forces that have been mobilized. But I am hopeful that in the weeks ahead, even though they may still be at the borders, they will not be in the states of alert and preparation and readiness that they currently are now in. I think the Indian side wants to be sure that this is a permanent change. And there are elections coming up and other things that are happening, and so we should be patient, but at the same time keep the pressure up so that we can come down these steps. And we're also committed to remaining engaged diplomatically with people visiting the region representing the international community.

One thing that we noted, both with respect to Afghanistan and to the situation between India and Pakistan, was the level of co-operation that has existed among not only the G-8 members but the other members of the international community who played a role in this -- in both of these situations, where rather than, as it might have been 10 or 12 or 15 years ago with the superpower competition that was inherent in almost every regional conflict back then, in this instance we all had a common objective and the great game has not broken out with respect to each trying to gain an advantage over the other. We're trying to bring peace into the region.

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