DATE=5/26/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PAK / U-S (L) NUMBER=2-262843 BYLINE=SCOTT ANGER DATELINE=ISLAMABAD CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: U-S Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering has met (Friday) with Pakistan's military leader for talks that included ways to restart a dialogue with India. As VOA's Scott Anger reports from Islamabad, the meeting is part of a three-day visit by Mr. Pickering, who met earlier with Indian officials in New Delhi. TEXT: A Pakistani government statement says General Pervez Musharraf urged Mr. Pickering to press its arch-rival India to re-start talks on the disputed region of Kashmir. Kashmir has been a source of tension in the region for years. India accuses Pakistan of backing an armed Muslim insurgency in the two-thirds of Kashmir it controls. Pakistan denies the charge and says it only provides moral, political and diplomatic support to - what it calls - freedom fighters. The United States says it will not mediate the dispute. Washington maintains the two countries should resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations. Mr. Pickering's visit comes amid strained relations between Pakistan and the United States. During a brief visit in March, President Clinton criticized Pakistan's support of the armed insurgency in Kashmir. Mr. Clinton also has asked Pakistan to use its influence with Afghanistan's hard-line Taleban movement to help bring suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden to justice. U-S officials have accused Mr. bin Laden masterminding the bombings of two American embassies in Africa in 1998. The government's statement says General Musharraf looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States and has expressed hope Mr. Pickering's visit will further cooperation between the two countries. Since General Musharraf seized power in Pakistan last October, Washington has been urging the military to restore democracy as soon as possible. On the day Mr. Pickering arrived in Pakistan, General Musharraf announced his government will abide by a recent Supreme Court ruling, which set a three-year deadline for the restoration of civilian rule. Before the ruling, General Musharraf had rejected efforts by the United States to set a timeframe for the restoration of democracy. Mr. Pickering's talks, which also focused on nuclear non-proliferation, follow reports from Washington that both Pakistan and India were preparing another round of nuclear tests. The State Department says both countries have reassured them no such tests are planned. Pakistani officials have told Mr. Pickering they have declared a moratorium on further testing but reserve the right to conduct nuclear tests if rival India does. Mr. Pickering is the first senior official to visit Pakistan since President Clinton's five-hour stop in March. Another round of talks between Pakistan and the United States is scheduled for next month in Washington. (SIGNED) NEB/SA/ENE 26-May-2000 10:40 AM EDT (26-May-2000 1440 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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