- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar, in Washington to appeal for the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions, pledged yesterday that his country will not be the first to resume nuclear testing in South Asia.
"Pakistan will maintain the moratorium on nuclear tests," Mr. Sattar told reporters after a meeting with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
The United States and other countries sanctioned India and stiffened existing penalties on Pakistan after the Islamabad government responded in kind to a series of Indian nuclear tests in 1998.
Pakistan "has not been the first in the past" to test weapons and will not be in the future, the foreign minister said.
Speaking a day earlier at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Mr. Sattar said sanctions retard efforts to relieve poverty, "which breeds hopelessness and desperation, and fosters extremism that needs to be opposed."
The Pakistani ministers visit comes amid strong signals that the Bush administration is preparing to ease or lift the sanctions on India, which is being cultivated as a strategic ally in Asia.
Mr. Powell would not commit to a similar course for Pakistan yesterday, but said simply, "The process of removal will be dealt with in the spirit of cooperation."
Mr. Powell also described the discussion as "good and fruitful," and noted that "no issue could not be discussed in the spirit of mutual openness."
The two spoke "at length" about Afghanistan, Mr. Powell said, but there was no indication whether Pakistani support for the extreme Islamic Taliban regime would affect the removal of sanctions or general U.S.-Pakistani relations.
The Afghan issue will continue to hamper the foreign minister during his visit. Afghan Americans plan to protest outside the National Press Club when the minister speaks there this afternoon.
Nastrine Gross, who is organizing the protest, said, "The world knows that the Taliban would not be possible without the military, political and financial support of Pakistan."
She asserted that the Taliban regime exists not for the well-being of the Afghan people, but as a means of exerting Pakistani authority in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been under military rule since a coup by Gen. Pervez Musharraf in October 1999. Mr. Sattar said his government was "building and strengthening foundations for the reconstruction of democracy in Pakistan."
Mr. Powell said he was "encouraged by the preparation for elections next year."
Mr. Powell and Mr. Sattar also discussed plans for a summit next month between Gen. Musharraf and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of India.
The two countries announced yesterday that the summit, the first between them in two years, will be held July 14-16 in New Delhi.
Nuclear issues will figure at the summit, along with continuing violence in Kashmir, the disputed region over which India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars. Mr. Sattar expressed hope that the issue would be addressed in a constructive fashion, speaking of a "moment of hope" in Pakistani-Indian relations.
Mr. Sattar would not comment on his discussion with Mr. Powell about Kashmir.
Mr. Powell maintained an impartial air, referring to India and Pakistan as "two great countries" and expressing hope that the India-Pakistan summit meeting would bring "results which will benefit both countries."

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