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India, Pak sobered by threat of N-war: US

India and Pakistan are moving towards peace after being 'sobered' by the prospect of nuclear war, US Secretary of State Powell said.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2004 12:49 IST

India and Pakistan are now moving towards peace after all sides were "sobered" by the prospect of nuclear war, US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said.

Speaking at Princeton, New Jersey, on the occasion of George Kennan's centenary birthday, Powell also said the US, acting in partnership with others, has played a quiet but important role "in this reconciliation between India and Pakistan".

He hoped that political negotiations between the two neighbours would begin soon and go well and said the US would offer its good offices for the ongoing engagement between India and Pakistan.

Powell said eighteen months ago, one of the great concerns he had as Secretary of State was that a war might break out between India and Pakistan, a war that could possibly go nuclear, since both have nuclear capability.

But over the last 18 months, said Powell, "we have seen all sides sobered by that possibility of war, and instead they are moving in the other direction.

"President Musharraf has done the right thing now to get firmer control over Pakistan's technological assets. The international web of proliferation that Dr AQ Khan used to traffic with Libya, with Iran, with North Korea is being shut down even as I speak.

"And the Pakistani and Indian leaderships both have now decided 'let's talk to each other, let's move forward.' We hope they have now turned the corner and are moving down a road toward lasting peace on the subcontinent."

"The political negotiations (between India and Pakistan) will begin soon, and we hope they go well," Powell said.

"Political dialogue and genuine conciliation mark the way forward in this new era. Further weapons proliferation, recrimination and threats is the sure way to calamity."

Powell said that terrorism obviously lingers as the number one danger facing the world.

"The interesting thing is that I look at it both as the chief diplomat and as a soldier. I cannot get rid of 35 years of military experience. And it is the first era I have lived in when the likelihood of major regional conflict between large countries with large industrial capability and large populations is not there.

"One exception to that might have been a conflict between India and Pakistan, which I think we are now moving in the other direction. The successes we have had with both countries is to let them know that we treat them as two separate countries: We don't see things solely as India-Pakistan."

First Published: Feb 21, 2004 09:47 IST