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Drop in Kashmir infiltration should be permanent: Powell.

NEW DELHI, March 16 Kyodo

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday suggested the time is ripe for a permanent cease-fire across the line of control separating Pakistani- and Indian-controlled Kashmir given the drop in infiltrations of Muslim militants into Indian Kashmir.

''I think this kind of activity (fall in cross-border terrorism and infiltration) should not only be during the winter season, but it has to be of a more permanent nature,'' Powell told a news conference after meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha.

Powell said there has to be a permanent end to the activity in order to see progress towards peace between India and Pakistan.

He added that he would raise the issue of dismantling rebel camps with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf so that the infiltrations stop not just during winter but permanently along the cease-fire line.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and training Islamic militants fighting its rule in Jammu and Kashmir, the mainly Hindu nation's only Muslim-majority state.

Pakistan denies the allegations, saying it has taken steps to halt infiltration of guerrillas from the Pakistani side.

Powell, who arrived here Monday, has so far met with Indian opposition leader Sonia Gandhi and National Security Adviser Brajesh Misra. He will call on Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee later in the evening.

Powell was here in July 2002 when tensions between nuclear rivals Indian and Pakistan were on the brink of war. Tensions between the two neighbors have eased in recent months, with the two sides resuming travel and sporting ties in addition to the prospects of an early political dialogue.

Powell will leave here Wednesday morning for the Pakistan and Afghanistan leg of his tour.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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