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HVK Archives: Kashmir to be on agenda of Big-5 foreign ministers' meet

Kashmir to be on agenda of Big-5 foreign ministers' meet - Maharashtra Herald

IANS ()
May 31, 1998

Title: Kashmir to be on agenda of Big-5 foreign ministers meet
Author: IANS
Publication: Maharashtra Herald
Date: May 31, 1998

The U.S. is trying to convene a meeting of foreign ministers of
then five permanent members of the U. N. Security Council in a
bid to prevent any nuclear escalation in South Asia over Kashmir.

Washington intends to include Kashmir on the agenda at the
conclave. All the five members - China, France, Russia, Britain
and the U.S. - are said to have given their nod to the meeting
which could be held as early as next week.

Disclosing Secretary of State Mdeleine Albright's initiative to
convene the meeting, State Department spokesman James Rubin said,
learly, in South Asia, the security situation has deteriorated
and so Secretary Albright has launched a process beginning with a
ministerial-level meeting that we hope to arrange as early as
next week."

Although he refused to disclose in any specific detail what would
be on the agenda, he reiterated that reducing the possibility of
conflict in Kashmir, "and to deal with the underlying dispute in
Kashmir," would be a basic goal.

Asked if an outcome the U.S. was seeking from this meeting was to
put together a mediation effort between India and Pakistan, Rubin
said, "We have had a long-standing position that we would be
prepared to be helpful if the parties saw that as wise and wanted
us to do that.

nd hopefully, Rubin said, ith the major powers in the world
having taken on this issue in this way, the U.S. was hopeful
that e will be in a position to urge them (India and Pakistan),
successfully, to do more to see that their underlying dispute
does not cause the kind of horrifying conflict that is now
imaginable."

Rubin said that Albright had received agreement in principle from
her counterparts to attend the meeting that would discuss "the
key issues that make the risk of conflict greater now in South
Asia - that is, conflict both by miscalculation or intentional,"
in the wake of nuclear tests conducted by-both India and
Pakistan. The spokesman said he purposes of this initial
session would be to develop a coordinated, common approach to
this grave situation; in particular, to see that there are no
more nuclear tests or escalations in the region."

Also, he said, "to reaffirm the world's commitment to the
maintenance of the global non-proliferation regime, to find ways
to engage India and Pakistan in a process that will lead to their
signing of the comprehensive test ban, support for the fissile
material cut-off, and ensuring that they don't take further
escalatory steps in the ballistic missile area."

"And finally,"' Rubin added, "to find ways to de-escalate the
underlying tensions, including promoting dialogue between India
and ' Pakistan, both on the current security situation and on the
underlying conflict in Kashmir, so that the underlying dispute
that has made it so worrying and so troublesome that they have
both tested nuclear weapons and have gone to war with each other
several times In recent decades, can be addressed."

Rubin acknowledged this would be the beginning of a "long and
complicated process", and that "despite the limited leverage the
outside world hat the concerns are so deep and the danger is
sufficient" that Albright felt that such a meeting was
imperative.

Rubin said that all the details had not been nailed down nor had
a venue been selected yet, but privately officials said it would
be either in New York or Geneva, at the end of next week.

Countering criticism that China has been involved in clandestine
weapons sales to Pakistan and contributing to its nuclear
programme thus being a spoiler of Washington's efforts to pursue
non-proliferation objectives in South Asia, Rubin said: "I think
the fact the Chinese foreign minister agreed to attend this
meeting is a signal that they want to be as supportive as they,
can to ensure that the troubling events in recent weeks in South
Asia do not spin out of control."

He noted that Beijing was "very much in sync with the United
States in terms of trying to convince Pakistan not to test, in
terms of their very strong response to India's initial test, in
terms of their decision, despite their obvious close relationship
with Pakistan, to allow this statement (at the UN deploring
Pakistan's tests) to go through as a result of the conversation
Secretary Albright had with the Chinese foreign minister."

Rubin conceded, "That is not to say there is not serious concern
that we've had in the past about China's cooperation with
Pakistan. But I think we all have to bear in mind the evolution
that, has occurred in China's policies, including a commitment
that we, believe they are honoring not to assist unsafeguarded
nuclear facilities, especially those in Pakistan and other
countries of concern."


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