- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2000

India has dismissed requests by China that it begin talks with Pakistan over Kashmir, insisting that no talks will take place between the two countries unless Pakistan ends cross-border support for the Kashmir insurgency.

"India does not need any certificate from anyone in its desire to talk to Pakistan," National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra told reporters at the Indian Embassy in Washington.

He did not mention China by name. But his remarks on Tuesday coincided with a high profile visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan to India this week, during which Beijing urged negotiations over divided Kashmir.

"The bus journey that our prime minister undertook to Lahore [Pakistan] is a proof of that desire. The bus, however, got stuck in Kargil," Mr. Mishra said.

He was referring to a 1999 bus ride by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajapayee to Lahore, Pakistan, a symbolic gesture of reconciliation that soured a few months later when Pakistani-backed militants invaded the Indian-ruled Kashmiri village of Kargil.

"It is up to Pakistan to restore the spirit of Lahore and that can only be done when they end cross-border terrorism," Mr. Mishra said.

Mr. Tang urged India this week to accept Pakistan's repeated offer for talks on Kashmir, saying that only through dialogue can the South Asian neighbors resolve the perennial problem that haunts them.

Pakistan is a close ally of China.

Mr. Tang, who spoke to leaders of both India and Pakistan during his four-day visit to the subcontinent, said Pakistani military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf was committed to resolving the Kashmir issue through dialogue.

India has dismissed Pakistan's repeated appeals for dialogue as "propaganda" and accuses Pakistan of aiding anti-India militants in the troubled Himalayan region.

Mr. Mishra is in Washington this week to firm up details of Mr. Vajapayee's September visit here.

He said economic sanctions imposed by the United States after India's 1998 nuclear tests would not feature prominently during Mr. Vajpayee's visit.

"We are not pleading for the lifting of sanctions," Mr. Mishra said. "But, the sanctions are an impediment to the realization of the potential cooperation that now exists between the two countries."

The sanctions have been eased over the past year, but many restrictions still apply.

Mr. Mishra said the main objective of the summit would be to follow up and broaden the scope of the "vision statement" signed by the two leaders during President Clinton's March visit to India.

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