Bush said to call for Indo-Pakistan dialogue
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - President Bush has written to Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf calling for talks between arch-rivals Pakistan and India to settle their disputes, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.
A ministry statement said Bush's first official letter to Musharraf was delivered to him Wednesday by U.S. Ambassador William Milam.
"President Bush underlined the shared interests of the two countries in a peaceful and stable South Asia," the statement said.
It said Bush applauded Pakistan's gesture in sending relief supplies for the victims of last month's devastating earthquake in western India and expressed pleasure at a subsequent direct telephone conversation between Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
"President Bush has emphasized that dialogue is vital for resolving the differences between the two countries," the statement said.
Bush's predecessor, President Bill Clinton, visited India and Pakistan in March last year and vowed to take a personal interest in seeking a settlement of the festering Indo-Pakistan dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. But his urgings to the two nuclear rivals failed to break a deadlock in peace talks, which have been on hold after fighting along their disputed border in Kashmir in 1999 brought them to the brink of their fourth war.
Pakistan, a close ally of the United States during the Cold War, has been uneasy at the warming of relations between Washington and New Delhi -- a close friend of the former Soviet Union -- during the Clinton presidency.
The ministry statement said Bush, in his letter, "appreciated the long history of cooperation and goodwill between Pakistan and the United States."
He also hoped for better relations with Pakistan and stated that "he looks forward to the opportunities ahead," it said.
Bush also expressed the hope that "the issues relating to Afghanistan will be addressed in a positive way," the statement said without giving details.
Washington has been pressing Islamabad to use its influence on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement to hand over Saudi-born terrorism suspect Osma bin Laden to face a U.S. trial.
Bin Laden is wanted for trial on the charges of masterminding the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed more than 200 people.
The U.N. Security Council imposed a second set of tougher sanctions against the Taliban last month for the radical Islamic movement's refusal to hand over bin Laden.
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