Clinton To Meet Pakistani Leader
WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton agreed today to meet here with Prime Minister Nawaz of Pakistan on Sunday to discuss resolving the increasingly ``dangerous″ conflict with India over long-disputed Kashmir, the White House announced.
Before agreeing to the meeting, Clinton conferred by telephone with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who raised no objections, said a White House official who asked not to be identified by name.
``All agreed the situation is dangerous and could escalate if not resolved quickly,″ the White House press office said in a statement.
Officials said the meeting, to take place at Blair House, the government guest residence, was requested by Sharif in a telephone conversation with Clinton.
Clinton then telephoned the Indian prime minister before confirming arrangements with Sharif, the official said.
``Prime Minister Sharif requested the meeting given that the situation in Kashmir is increasingly tense,″ the official said, adding that Clinton has long been concerned over developments in the border area and has been conferring with both sides for several weeks.
``We have made our position on the conflict clear,″ the official said, adding that Clinton believes that India and Pakistan should quickly return to direct dialogue.
But he said Clinton does not intend to use the meeting with Sharif as an attempt to mediate the conflict.
``We believe this has to be resolved through bilateral dialogue,″ he said.
As the two leaders arranged the meeting, Indian soldiers were reported to be mounting an assault to seize a strategic Himalayan peak near the Pakistan frontier from Islamic guerrillas.
The hostilities have raised fears of a wider conflict between the two rivals, which both tested nuclear weapons last year.
India and Pakistan both claim all of Kashmir, which has been the focus of two of the three wars between the countries.