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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
South Asia diplomacy in top gear
Indian army soldiers in their bunker, near the border with Pakistan.
Troops are massed along the frontline

Diplomats still believe that war can be averted but only if Pakistan clamps down on Islamic fighters infiltrating into Indian-administered Kashmir.

The US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is due in the region next week.

And now President Bush says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will also be going soon.

Mr Straw's visit is being given differing interpretations.

He himself said that war was not inevitable.

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes
Indian Defence Minister: No concessions won from Pakistan

However, the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes said that he didn't think that Mr Straw had won any concessions from Pakistan.

India, it seems, is willing to wait a little longer, though its patience is being tested by continuing attacks.

If one is looking for optimism, there could be something in signs that General Musharraf is acting against the Islamic movements.

There are reports that he has cut off radio links to groups inside Kashmir.

One Islamic leader said that they felt betrayed.

But whether this is true or effective might not become clear for some weeks.

In the meantime, diplomatic pressure will also be put on India to allow time for that to be resolved.

General Musharraf is meanwhile rallying his troops with battle cries.

Indian soldiers at a check post in Jammu
War could be sparked off by accident

He said that they would unleash a storm if India moved even one inch into Pakistan.

The hope among diplomats is that he is covering concessions with rhetoric.

However, there is also the realistic fear that the two sides are on course for war.

The State Department spokesman in Washington said that "irresponsible" elements could touch off a conflict.

The American newspaper USA Today said that Washington was making contingency plans for the evacuation of a thousand US troops in Pakistan and as many as 50 or 60,000 American civilians from both countries.

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29 May 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | UK Politics
29 May 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | South Asia
27 May 02 | South Asia
30 May 02 | South Asia
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