- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

NEW DELHI Pakistani jets shot down an unmanned Indian spy plane late yesterday, Pakistan's military said, shortly after a U.S. envoy declared that tensions between the two nations had eased but not enough to eliminate the threat of war.
An air force statement released in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, said the plane was shot down about 11 p.m. and crashed near the town of Raja Jang south of Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan.
Government spokesman Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi said the incident was the latest example of India's "complete disregard" for "international norms."
Gen. Qureshi said Pakistan wanted a decrease in tensions, "but if Indian aggression is launched, Pakistan will defend itself."
The developments contrasted with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's cautious optimism as he met earlier in the evening with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a day after he spoke with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad.
But a key stumbling block remained.
Gen. Musharraf has acknowledged the need for a long-term solution to cross-border attacks in the disputed Kashmir region, Mr. Armitage told the Indians.
"That's something we hope to see translated into action," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told reporters. "We need to check whether this is a credible assurance."
While saying tensions had lessened, Mr. Armitage gave no hint of a breakthrough on his mission to try to defuse the potential conflict on the subcontinent.
"Tensions are a little bit down," he said. "I feel very good about the discussions in India. If tensions are high, there is always a risk of war. Until that situation is changed, there will be the risk."
Mr. Vajpayee did not appear before reporters with Mr. Armitage.
Meanwhile, the top U.S. military officer, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States has plans to reposition U.S. troops operating in and around Pakistan in the event of war between India and Pakistan. Gen. Myers declined to discuss details of the plan.
Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh insisted earlier that India does not want war.
"We are very much committed to moving on the path of peace because to peace there is no alternative," Mr. Singh said after meeting Mr. Armitage.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on Thursday that the United States would continue efforts to verify that movement by Pakistan-based insurgents into Indian territory had ceased, as Gen. Musharraf maintains.
Mr. Boucher told at a news briefing yesterday: "In terms of what we see going on, I would say that we have growing indications that infiltration across the Line of Control is down significantly. But I'd also say we can't say that this change has been done on a permanent basis. And that's what President Musharraf has promised; that's what we're looking for."
But there have been no indications that Washington received a commitment from New Delhi of reciprocal moves to calm the situation.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld flies in next week, as several nations advised India and Pakistan to avoid a war that could turn them into international outcasts if nuclear weapons were used.

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