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Mediation will not help: Rice

WASHINGTON, FEB. 15. At a time when the visiting Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has been vociferously calling for mediation by the United States between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, the Bush administration has made it known in clear and precise terms that it is not inclined to move in that direction.

The U.S. President, George Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice, while briefing mediapersons ahead of Mr. Bush's visit to East Asia was asked if the U.S. and China can play a bigger role in solving the problem in South Asia.

``Look, the U.S. is always prepared to help in any way that it can. But we don't believe that this is something that mediation or facilitation is going to help. What will help is that the two parties decide that it is time for dialogue. And we are encouraging that,'' Dr. Rice remarked at the White House.

Dr. Rice was also asked if Mr. Bush will be taking up with the Chinese leaders the country's relations with India or issues such as Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations. She was also asked to comment on Gen. Musharraf's allegations that India wastesting another nuclear missile or a nuclear weapon.

On the issue of Gen. Musharraf's allegations on nuclear testing, she merely said, ``Well, we don't have any evidence...at this point''. On discussions with the Chinese leaders on regional stability, she said: ``...we do not see Pakistan or India as objects of discussion with any other country. What we do see is that there are a number of countries which are concerned about stability in South Asia that want to try to help to encourage dialogue, that want to try and avoid the kinds of tensions that we've had in South Asia in recent months. And we believe that is an interest that the Chinese share. And so, of course, I think we will want to discuss that,'' Dr. Rice said.

She said she would not disagree with the notion that there were still very strong tensions between India and Pakistan, but that some progress had been made ``largely as a factor of what Gen. Musharraf has been doing since his speech'' about a month ago.

``The problem that we encounter when the Indian Parliament was attacked, when democracy, the symbol of democracy was attacked, I think it showed to everybody that terrorism was a threat in this case not just to India but also a threat to a stable and secular Pakistan,'' Dr. Rice said making the point that the message of Gen. Musharraf against terrorism and extremism was something that the U.S. applauded.

At the Washington Foreign Press Center, the deputy spokesman of the State Department argued that the attack on the Indian Parliament was indeed an ``act of terrorism''.

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