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October 8, 2001
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Britain moving to prevent India-Pakistan conflict

Sanjay Suri in London

Britain is making urgent diplomatic moves to prevent a crisis from erupting between India and Pakistan, according to well-placed official sources in London.

The moves were launched following Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to India and Pakistan over the weekend, the sources said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell is visiting India and Pakistan soon to calm tempers on both sides.

The decision reportedly followed talks between Blair and Bush after the former's visit to Islamabad and Delhi.

Blair successfully prevailed over Musharraf to play down differences over Jammu and Kashmir at this stage, the sources said. But the British found India taking a harder line now than they had anticipated.

Recently, United States President George Bush talked of declaring the Jaish-e-Mohammed - blamed for the October one bomb explosion outside the Jammu and Kashmir state assembly that killed 38 people - a terrorist organisation within hours of Blair's visit.

That move followed strong criticism by Prime Minister Vajpayee that the global alliance against terrorism is playing into Pakistani hands while ignoring terrorism aimed at India.

The stand has hardened after signs that Pakistan seems to be winning the public relations war in establishing itself as a front-line country against terrorism.

The Indian government is holding the British to commitments made to External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh during his visit to London last week.

Jaswant Singh was told that Al Qaeda is only the first target in the war on terrorism.

"I was assured in no uncertain terms that the first list is not the end of the story," Singh had said.

Talks with Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon covered precise military moves and included the commitment from India to supply extensive intelligence information. The information details terrorist training camps within Pakistan.

The British encountered a hardened Indian position after signs that Britain is going back on some of the declarations made to Singh.

At a press meeting addressed jointly by Singh and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, the latter had said the attack in Srinagar was 'an attack right at the heart of a democratic government, in this case at the centre of the operation of democracy, a democratic assembly'.

The following day in the House of Commons, Straw again condemned the attack, but this time called it an attack at the heart of 'their democracy'.

Indo-Asian News Service

The Attack on America: The Complete Coverage

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External Link:
For further coverage, please visit www.saja.org/roundupsept11.html

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