Powell may visit South Asia after summit
By Amir Mateen - Jang/The News
WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Collin Powell may visit South Asia after the Musharraf-Vajpayee Summit. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was asked about Powell's plan to visit India during his regular briefing on Tuesday. He said Powell had told various people in the region that he looked forward to "visiting out there", but there was no particular trip or timing schedule.
In Boucher's interpretation, Powell would be visiting South Asia after the summit. But he made it clear that he wouldn't go so far "as to say in the near future." It was not clear from Boucher's response whether Powell would visit India alone or its rival Pakistan as well. Observers agree that much would depend on what happens at the Summit.
In case of a positive outcome of the summit, Powell would definitely like to visit both countries to add the 'peace feather ' in his cap. At this stage, the US is mincing no words in letting the world know that the United States would like to leave the outcome of the upcoming Indo-Pak summit to the Indian and Pakistani governments.
US State Department clearly indicated that it would not like to offer solutions to India and Pakistan in resolving their disputes. Boucher was asked about America's position on the summit. In response, he hinted at a 'hands-off' approach but acknowledged that "the question of India and Pakistan and the issues that they are going to be dealing with are very important to them and to the United States."
He said the US was looking forward to India and Pakistan establishing a base of cooperation for them to produce a more peaceful and stable situation in the region. "It is our hope that they will do that," he expressed them well on the upcoming event.
When asked about any specific recommendations that the US may be offering to India and Pakistan, he parried the question, saying, "I will leave that to our representatives in the field." While the US has been definitely playing a covert role in nudging the two countries towards dialogue, it would not like to give that impression publicly, say observers.
Meanwhile, US think tanks and Congressional sources are voicing their hopes about a positive outcome of the summit. The Brookings Institute held a briefing on Wednesday on the India-Pakistan summit, giving its views whether the summit will lead to new agreements between the two countries. The meeting was attended by Teresita Schaffer, former US ambassador to Sri Lanka and Dennis Kux, author of ``The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000: Disenchanted Allies.''
The participants, while pointing out the difficulties that lay ahead, generally expressed the hope that India and Pakistan would initiate the process of peace. It also emphasised the importance of initiating the process rather then focusing too much on 'solutions' at this early stage.
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