Kissinger for amicable solution to Kashmir issue
17 January 2002
Chennai: As the war against terrorism brings Kashmir into focus, the former U.S. Secretary of State and elder statesman, Henry Kissinger, today held a series of meetings here on a broad spectrum of issues including ways to ease tensions in the border State. Dr. Kissinger after his meeting with the Centre''s designated interlocutor on Kashmir, K.C. Pant, said he had come to India not with a specific agenda for discussions. But official sources here said that Jammu and Kashmir was discussed extensively with Mr. Pant. Dr.Kissinger later met the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Home Minister, L.K. Advani. Holding talks hours before the arrival of the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, here, Dr.Kissinger, however, clarified that he was in India on a private visit and the official views of the U.S. would be conveyed by Gen. Powell during his talks with his Indian counterpart, Jaswant Singh. ''I have come here to educate myself on a few facts about Kashmir'', Dr. Kissinger, who was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, said after his talks with Mr. Pant. Asked to comment of the situation on the Indo-Pak. border, he said ''the situation concerns everybody but I hope the atmosphere has improved since the week-end.'' After his hour- long meeting with Mr. Advani, Dr. Kissinger said the U.S. opposed state-sponsored terrorism ''no matter where it emanates from.'' Supporting India for playing a ''constructive role in the fight against terrorism,'' he said that India and Pakistan should join hands to solve Kashmir problem. The U.S. favoured a peaceful resolution and the beginning of a new relationship between the two neighbours. Government sources said that in resolving the Kashmir tangle, the U.S. had stated that a solution to the vexed issue should be found in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. India was looking at ways to elicit Kashmiris'' views by expanding the electoral base in the State. The Government was encouraging the Hurriyat Conference to participate in the coming Assembly elections. While contacts with the Hurriyat leaders are regular, a structured dialogue with the group was yet to begin. Responding to a statement by the former Prime Minister, I. K. Gujral, seeking reactivation of the Pant Commission, Mr. Pant said he had been ''regularly meeting people from the State as well as the Kashmiri leaders settled abroad.'' The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, with the former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: S. Arneja.