US, UK plan verification force for J&K
6 June 2002
The Times of India
New Delhi: The United States plans to propose a US-British military monitoring force for Kashmir in a bid to defuse the threat of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, a newspaper here reported on Thursday. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will put forward plans to send helicopter-borne troops as a ''verification force'' when he visits the subcontinent next week, said The Independent, citing defence and diplomatic sources. Around 500 troops would make up the force, working alongside Indian and Pakistani security forces, said the sources. Rumsfeld on Wednesday said India and Pakistan ''may well be looking for ways to tamp things down'' in a regional crisis which has led to fears of all-out war. He was speaking in London after meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon for talks on the situation. However, Britain and the United States on Wednesday advised their citizens to leave India and Pakistan, in a new sign of increasing concern. Rumsfeld is on an extended overseas tour to include stops in several European and Gulf countries as well as visits to India and Pakistan. Firm dates on Rumsfeld''s visit to New Delhi and Islamabad have yet to be revealed, but he plans to travel to the countries on the heels of a visit this week by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.