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No US role in Indo-Pak peace process: Sinha

By T V Parasuram in Washington, DC
January 21, 2004 18:14 IST
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Union External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said there is no US role in "terms of mediation" between India and Pakistan. The minister thus contradicted Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent remarks that the breakthrough in Islamabad was the result of Washington's two year efforts.

"The US role is that of a friend who makes inquiries about the state of affairs and the progress which has been made," Sinha told reporters in Powell's presence, when asked if there was any role for Washington in Indo-Pak ties.

Sinha, who met President George W Bush and later held talks with Powell, said "in my discussions there was absolutely no suggestion of a role for the US in terms of mediation."

"There was curiosity, there was inquiry, and that is fair enough," he added.

Powell, told US News and World Report last week that the recent breakthrough in Indo-Pak ties was the result of two years of work that the US had been involved in with the Indians and Pakistanis.

"We are so pleased at how far we have come over the last couple of years. When the minister (Sinha) and I were here together some 18 months ago, we were worried about a conflict breaking out in the region and how that conflict might escalate," the secretary of state said on Tuesday.

"And here today, we are able to talk about the success that the Indians and Pakistanis achieved recently in Islamabad, how they have been reaching out to one another, how transportation links are being restablished, how two leaders Prime Minister Vajpayee and President Musharraf, have set themselves on a course of dialogue and discussion of all the issues that are outstanding between the two sides," Powell continued.

He said the US supported Musharraf's efforts towards improving relations with India. "He (Musharraf) is stepping up the challenge of improving relations with India...we support him and will continue to support him."

Sinha said stability is very important to carry forward the initiative that has been taken.

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T V Parasuram in Washington, DC
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