TITLE=PAK / U-S (L)
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
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
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
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
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
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
26-May-2000 10:40 AM EDT (26-May-2000 1440 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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