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February 15, 2002
1558 IST

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US working to defuse tension between India, Pak: Powell

A day after India rejected any third party mediation or facilitation, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday said the US was doing everything it can to defuse the 'crisis situation' between India and Pakistan and to find a way forward to bring peace in Kashmir in a way acceptable to both countries.

Powell's remarks came during an interaction in a MTV global discussion with youths in India, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, Italy and Egypt, besides the US.

He was responding to a question from a Kashmiri youth who pointed out that over 35,000 people in his state were killed in terrorist violence but the US has continued to urge India to exercise restraint.

He asked whether the US was not adopting double standards when it came to lives of American citizens and Indian people.

Denying that American life was more precious than 'Indian life, Pakistani life or Kashmiri life', Powell described Kashmir as a 'difficult problem'.

"The US wants to help the two sides enter a dialogue with each other, a dialogue where they can put all of the problems that exist between the two nations, including Kashmir, on a table where others can assist them in this dialogue," Powell said.

The US has indicated to both New Delhi and Islamabad that it will 'remain engaged to try to de-escalate the current crisis and get the dialogue process going'.

Asked whether by aligning with a military dictatorship in Pakistan, the US was placing strategic self interests above exalted values, Powell said Washington was 'quite pleased' with President Pervez Musharraf's January 12 speech where he spoke of going against extremists, religious fundamentalists and terrorists.

In discussions with American leaders, Musharraf has also made it clear that there will be parliamentary elections later this year, Powell said.

"The fact that we have come so far with Pakistan in just five months time is indicative of how much more we can do in the months ahead with President Musharraf," he said.

RELATED REPORTS:
US insists attack on Parliament was terrorism
US rules out intervention in J&K

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