Bush tells Pakistan to prevent war with India

Visiting France, president expresses `deep concerns'

May 27, 2002|By Bill Glauber | Bill Glauber,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

PARIS -- President Bush called on President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to "show results" in stopping armed militants from crossing into the volatile Kashmir region as the administration continued to work diplomatic channels and monitor tensions between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan.

Bush expressed "deep concern" about the two missile tests Pakistan conducted yesterday and Saturday. But he said it is more important for Musharraf to clamp down on incursions into India-controlled areas of Kashmir, where bloody assaults have raised the stakes among the longtime foes bidding for terrain in the remote mountainous region.

"I'm more concerned about making sure that ... President Musharraf show results in terms of stopping people from crossing the line of control, stopping terrorism," Bush said during a news conference held after talks with French President Jacques Chirac.

"That's what's more important than the missile testing -- is that he perform," Bush said of Musharraf.

Tensions between India and Pakistan increased May 15 after an attack killed 34 people on the Indian side. Asked whether the tensions pose a threat to U.S. forces in the region -- Pakistan is the site of a key base in the U.S. battle against al-Qaida in Afghanistan -- Bush said, "I would certainly hope not."

Before leaving Russia, where he toured a synagogue in St. Petersburg yesterday, Bush said that "any time you have countries with nuclear arms ... serious tension is dangerous." But he added, "I'm hopeful that we'll be able to defuse the situation."

Questions over India and Pakistan followed Bush on his European tour.

As he has gone from capital to capital on the continent -- where people and political leaders often deride the United States and its policies -- Bush has received warm welcomes from the likes of Chirac, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Demonstrations have been mostly tame and sparsely attended, although about 5,000 left-wing protesters marched through Paris' streets yesterday.

Bush's brand of "buddy politics" seems to be going down well with Europe's top leaders, many of whom continue to express solidarity with the United States in its battle against terrorism.

Chirac, who leads a center-right party, has been a staunch U.S. ally, although some on the French left have deep reservations about the course of America's war on terrorism and its status as a "hyperpower."

But these days, Chirac is France's most powerful politician, coming off a presidential race in which he overwhelmingly defeated far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen.

After broad talks yesterday afternoon, Bush and Chirac appeared almost chatty in a news conference beneath the gilded ceiling and crystal chandeliers of a sprawling room at the Elysee Palace.

Chirac tackled the issue of terrorism, saying, "Leaders across the world must pay great attention to this issue and be determined to eradicate terrorism."

Bush lauded Chirac, saying the French president called immediately after the attacks on Sept. 11 and told him, "I'm your friend."

"On this continent, France takes the lead in helping to hunt down people who want to harm Americans and/or the French or anybody else," Bush said.

Bush also gave a warning about the terrorists: "Make no mistake about it, they'd like to strike again. ... These are cold-blooded killers, and it requires strong cooperation to protect our citizens."

Bush said he and Chirac talked about how to better fight terrorism.

"I speak in terms of doing a better job of cutting off money to terrorists, denying them safe haven," Bush said. "And as we fight for a safer world, how to make the world a better world."

Other questions focused on Russian nuclear assistance to Iran and U.S. policy on Iraq.

Bush repeated the concerns he discussed with Putin, saying Putin raised the possibility of having inspectors examine a nuclear plant in Iran that Russia is helping to build to verify that it would not be used to make material for weapons.

Regarding Iraq, how America deals with President Saddam Hussein worries many Europeans, who would prefer a less bellicose policy and a more restrained strategy for containing the nation.

"The stated policy of my government is that we have a regime change," Bush said. "And as I told President Chirac, I have no war plans on my desk. And I will continue to consult closely with him. We do view Saddam Hussein as a ... serious threat to stability and peace."

Chirac gently mentioned some of the economic issues that divide Europe and the United States. Europe has been stung by U.S. tariffs on steel imports and a farm bill with new subsidies that run counter to World Trade Organization rules. European farmers also feast on subsidies.

Chirac called for "more consultation" on the issues but added, "These diverging views only account for 5 percent of trade" between the European Union and the United States.

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