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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK


World: South Asia

No meeting of minds at UN

Both India and Pakistan are hoping to sway opinion at the UN

By South Asia analyst Alastair Lawson

The fact that the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, Jaswant Singh and Sartaj Aziz, are not due to meet at the UN shows that relations between the countries have not improved since the end of the Kargil conflict in Kashmir.

Kashmir Conflict
A statement released by the Indian Foreign Ministry tersely stated that no request from Pakistan had been made for a meeting between Mr Singh and Mr Aziz, and that India had no plans of its own to initiate a dialogue between the two men.

For both countries it appears a sound opportunity to settle their differences has been missed.

Lobbying for support

Not surprisingly, Pakistan will use the UN meeting once again to try and draw international attention to the Kashmir dispute.


[ image: Sartaj Aziz: No talks until Kashmir resolved]
Sartaj Aziz: No talks until Kashmir resolved
Speaking before his departure to New York, Mr Aziz re-stated the Pakistani position: no meaningful negotiations can take place with India until this issue has been resolved.

The Pakistani foreign minister will reiterate his country's concerns over India's nuclear doctrine which advocates the development of land, sea and air based nuclear weapons.


Indian Ambassador Kamlesh Sharma: Bilateral modality is the only viable route
Mr Aziz will no doubt give his wholehearted support to a delegation of Hurriyat leaders from Indian-administered Kashmir who will be lobbying for a referendum to be held in Kashmir similar to the vote that was recently held in East Timor.

India for its part will be equally eager to keep up the diplomatic pressure on Pakistan since the end of the fighting in Kargil.


[ image: Jaswant Singh: Will seek to rally opinion over terrorism]
Jaswant Singh: Will seek to rally opinion over terrorism
Many commentators agree that Delhi won the propaganda battle between the two countries during the Kargil conflict.

Delhi will be lobbying hard for the UN to endorse a convention against international terrorism because it believes this will put more pressure on what it says is Pakistan's policy of arming and training Kashmiri militants.

India will no doubt be pleased by remarks attributed to the Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, over the weekend in which he was reported to have warned Pakistan not to allow its territory to be used for financing, training and transporting terrorists to the former Soviet republic of Chechnya.

US not impressed

The United States is not likely to be impressed by the incessant bickering between the two South Asian neighbours.

It wants a diminution of tension in the region, but so far that does not seem to be on the cards.

The apparent failure of Mr Aziz and Mr Singh to meet - even on the sidelines of the UN meeting - has coincided with signals from both sides that they will not sign the CTBT.

Washington is unlikely to allow President Clinton to go ahead with his proposed visit to South Asia next year unless the differences between Delhi and Islamabad are resolved.



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