INTERNATIONAL

Terrorism and violence should end, Rice tells Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, MARCH 17. The visiting U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said tonight that she hoped India and Pakistan would overcome "deep differences and divisions" through the goodwill generated by the composite dialogue process and that all concerned parties would work to end violence and terrorism for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Addressing a joint news conference along with the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, Dr. Rice said violence and terrorism in Kashmir were as much a subject of concern to Washington as human rights violations.

She was responding to a specific question on reports commissioned by U.S. institutions and others on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir. She was also asked whether she raised the issue in New Delhi.

"The obvious view of United States is in no part of the world people should suffer. We come out with human rights situation every year and that speaks for itself. At the same time we also speak of the need for ending violence and terrorism. There are a number of issues to be dealt with by all the parties," she said.

Dr. Rice had earlier met the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf and the Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz. She also held bilateral talks with her Pakistani counterpart, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, after arriving from New Delhi.

Dr. Rice made a day's trip to Kabul and spent a few hours there reviewing the situation in the country with the Hamid Karzai regime.

Gen. Musharraf and Mr. Aziz told Dr. Rice that Pakistan believed the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir needed to be settled in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and that all stakeholders needed to show flexibility, leadership, courage and magnanimity to resolve it.

In her interaction with the Pakistani leadership, Dr. Rice dealt with the repercussions of the nuclear proliferation activities of the disgraced scientist, A.Q. Khan, the India-Pakistan dialogue process, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq and the need to ensure free and fair elections in Pakistan in 2007.

Pakistan reiterated its demand for the supply of F-16 aircraft by the U.S. in the context of the defence cooperation between Washington and Islamabad. At the press conference, Dr. Rice responded to a question on the subject by saying that it figured "broadly in the context of defence requirements of Pakistan."

Asked about the differences between India and Pakistan on the construction of the Baglihar hydroelectric project and the Kishanganga project and whether the U.S. was ready to act as a mediator, Dr. Rice said the U.S. maintained that on specific projects, the parties would have to resolve issues.

About democratic reforms in Pakistan in the context of Gen. Musharraf's relinquishing his Army post, Dr. Rice said that Washington favoured a steady movement towards free and fair elections in 2007.

Mr. Kasuri said that Pakistan had never had such a strong Opposition and vibrant media and concurred with the U.S. on a 2007 general election.

Uprooting network

Dr. Rice emphasised the importance of continuing cooperation to uproot the entire A.Q. Khan network.

"He was as much a threat to the U.S. as to Pakistan and the international community. It is important to ensure that the tentacles of the network are broken up. The most important thing is to find out how it happened," she said.

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