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January 12, 2002
0910 IST

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Powell urges India to be
patient with Musharraf

T V Parasuram in Washington

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has urged India to be patient with Musharraf and give him more time to crackdown on militants while signalling that New Delhi should not expect immediate results from Musharraf's speech, scheduled for Saturday night.

Powell, who will travel to the region next week in an effort to defuse the tense Indo-Pak stand-off, told reporters that so far India has responded with patience even while mobilising troops and he hoped that it will continue to "use every political and diplomatic avenue that is open to us."

Powell said he has been trying to cool tensions in daily telephone diplomacy and indicated that one message to India is to "be patient with Musharraf."

He said "the Indians are looking for action and substance as well as the right policy statements and so Saturday is an important day."

"I think it is important also to note that you can't expect every action to be taken at the same time...you are giving a speech which is a policy statement, and so I have been saying to the Indians: 'Let us see what President Musharraf says'.

Powell said that after Musharraf's speech, people will have to wait and see if it offers a basis for both sides to "move down the escalatory ladder."

"We will encourage both sides once we get through this immediate crisis to start this dialogue which ultimately must include Kashmir," he said.

War over Kashmir between India and Pakistan would be "unthinkable" and a "disaster," he said.

"We have to try to solve this in diplomatic and political channels because the dangers to peace in that part of the world and the impact it would have on the whole international situation are so troubling to contemplate," Powell said.

Powell noted that Musharraf has taken various actions against militants, including arresting leaders of Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

He said Musharraf started moving in this direction before September 11 and before December 13.

PTI

Complete Coverage: The Attack on Parliament

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