Kashmir violence greets Powell visit

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The Independent Online

Fresh violence erupted in Kashmir as The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, flew from Pakistan to India to urge both countries to resume talks over the disputed region.

But his peace hopes seemed doomed ad Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire for the second day - even though President Bush called just days ago for the nuclear rivals to ease tensions during the Afghanistan attacks "and, for that matter, forever".

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf committed his country to cooperation with the US military action in neighboring Afghanistan for as long as it takes for the operation to be successful.

"We certainly will carry on co-operating so long as the operation lasts," he said after meeting with General Powell.

At the same time, President Musharraf expressed hope that the operation in Afghanistan will be short – a point with which Gen. Powell concurred.

But Gen. Powell noted that President Bush has said that the anti–terrorist campaign in Afghanistan will continue as long as it takes to achieve its objectives.

He said he was satisfied that his talks provided a "solid foundation" for a durable US relationship with Pakistan. On his return to Washington, said he will make a strong case with the administration for providing debt relief for Pakistan – a priority goal of President Musharraf's government.

Both Musharraf and Powell called for a broad–based government to replace Taliban rule. Powell said Afghanistan needs a government that "will welcome refugees instead of providing them."

He said he wanted to help Pakistan and India resolve their differences over Kashmir. He stressed the need for dialogue and, in a comment certain to please Pakistanis, said the dispute "must be resolved in accord with the wishes of the Kashmir people."

He did not discuss an attack by Indian forces across a ceasefire line in Kashmir that was initiated an hour before his arrival here Monday evening.

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