No Deal At Kashmir Summit

Graduate students and faculty walk down the isle during the Graduate Commencement Ceremony at Cassell Coliseum on the campus of Virginia Tech in Richmond, Va., Friday, May 11, 2007.
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Pakistan and India ended a summit Monday with no agreement on the disputed Himalayan province of Kashmir, where Muslim guerrillas are fighting for independence.

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf met for an hour with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as midnight approached in one final attempt to salvage the three-day summit.

After a "stalemate" in talks, Musharraf and his delegation left for the airport in Agra, Pakistani Information Secretary Anwar Mahmood said.

"We have reached no agreement," he said. "It was just a farewell call and now we are going to the airport."

Pakistani officials said talks had broken down over the final wording of a joint declaration following the first summit between the two nuclear-armed rivals in over two years.

Another Pakistani official close to the delegation accused the Indians of backtracking on earlier agreements.

Vajpayee is, however, due to visit Pakistan for a return summit later this year.

Before beginning his second day of formal talks with Vajpayee, Musharraf, 57, surprised journalists with a long statement on Kashmir and dreams of better ties with his longtime South Asian foe.

"The public should be told that the main issue between Pakistan and India is Kashmir," Musharraf told a select group of senior editors from the Indian media. "I have never said that I would not talk on other issues. All I have said is that Kashmir is the main issue … and I will carry on saying it because this is what we have killed each other for."

The Himalayan province, which has ignited two of three wars between India and Pakistan, is the flashpoint of more than five decades of enmity between the neighbors.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and aiding Islamic militants who have fought since 1989 for an independent Kashmir or merger with Muslim Pakistan. Islamabad says it gives only moral support. As many as 60,000 people have died.

"We are not encouraging violence in Kashmir," Musharraf told reporters. "This is an indigenous freedom struggle going on."

After the first formal talks between the leaders on Sunday, Indian officials insisted that the wide-ranging talks were "frank and constructive."

"A number of issues were thrashed out. These included the issue of nuclear risk reduction," Sushma Swaraj, India's information minister had said Sunday. She said the two also touched on trade, cross-border terrorism and the return of Indian war prisoners.

Pakistan denies holding any Indian POWs, but the military leader told the editors he would "personally look into it."

"I've seen my soldiers and officers die, so I certainly have sympathies with any parent when they have lost their son," he said.

An Indian official on Sunday said that confidence-building measures to prevent a nuclear weapons accident and a proposed natural gas pipeline between Iran and India, via Pakistan, were also discussed by the leaders.

But Musharraf's comments Monday indicated otherwise.

I keep talking about Kashmir, and you keep talking about cross-border terrorism and confidence-building measures," Musharraf told the Indian editors. "Is a CBM possible if you are shooting across the border, killing each other?"

Even as he spoke, the violence in Kashmir continued to take its toll. Twenty-six people were killed in confrontations between soldiers and Islamic militants on Monday, taking the number of those killed during the three-day summit to 76.

Still, Musharraf appeared hopeful that the stage had been set to curb the violence and continue dialogue.

"I personally feel that at this stage, we shouldn't get bogged down in solutions," Musharraf said. "Step one was the initiation of dialogue and I would like to give all the credit to Prime Minister Vajpayee for his statesmanship."

Since Muslim Pakistan was carved out of Hindu-majority India following independence from Britain, both have claimed the entire Jammu-Kashmir region. A cease-fire line from the 1971 war divides it between them, with two-thirds in India and the remainder under Pakistan's control.

When India and Pakistan conducted underground nuclear tests in 1998, they provoked worldwide condemnation and U.S. sanctions. Both impoverished nations are eager to show they are improving security in the region to get the sanctions lifted.

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