Powell: Terrorism more widespread than al-Qaida

NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday recent terrorist attacks in India prove that the world's terrorism problems extend well beyond Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

Speaking at a news conference after talks with Indian officials, Powell condemned a car bombing on Oct. 1 that killed nearly 40 people in Indian-held Kashmir.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other Indian leaders, Powell said, "pointed out correctly that the problems of terrorism are not limited to Afghanistan." Powell said he "assured them that our efforts are directed against all terrorism."

The secretary added: "The United States and India are united against terrorism, and that includes the terrorism that has been directed against India as well."

Back in Washington, officials announced that President Bush will meet with Vajpayee at the White House on Nov. 9.

Powell arrived in the Indian capital after a visit to neighboring Pakistan. He then flew to Shanghai, China, for meetings with Asia-Pacific foreign ministers in advance of a summit later this week. Bush was to arrive in China on Thursday.

Powell, with Indian External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh at his side, seemed delighted at recent trends in relations between the two countries.

He echoed Singh's comments that the United States and India are "natural allies" because of shared values. "The prospects have never been better for cooperation across a whole range of issues," Powell said.

Powell came to South Asia in hopes of easing Indo-Pakistani tensions over Kashmir. He fell far short of his goal as the hostility appears to have increased.

There were shellings Monday and Tuesday across the cease-fire line that separates Indian Kashmir from Pakistani Kashmir.

Pakistan accused India on Wednesday of making threatening troop movements in the territory and put its forces on high alert. India said the movements were a routine troop rotation.

India was one of the first countries to condemn the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States and also offered generous cooperation in the anti-terrorism struggle.

India, like Russia, believes that strong support for the U.S. terrorism position will earn it reciprocal backing for its own problems with terrorists.

President Bush sent Powell to South Asia in hopes of persuading the nuclear-armed rivals to show restraint, especially in view of the U.S. efforts to maintain an international focus on tracking down those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf told Powell he condemned the attack in Kashmir. According to U.S. officials, Musharraf also promised Powell he would take steps to reduce extremist activity in Kashmir.

Pakistan believes that predominantly Hindu India is imposing its will on the mostly Muslim population of Kashmir. India believes it is the victim of a Pakistan-led terror campaign in Kashmir.

The issue continues to generate passions more than 50 years after the conflict first erupted.

Statements on the subject by ranking American officials are given careful scrutiny, and even the smallest nuances do not go unnoticed.

Indian newspapers carried front page accounts Wednesday suggesting that Powell had adopted the Pakistani view when, according to the accounts, he said in Islamabad that Kashmir was "the central issue" between India and Pakistan.

That seemed closer to Pakistan's view that Kashmir the "core" issue as opposed to India's perception that it is "one of many issues."

Powell said he was misquoted. He said he had described Kashmir as "central to the problems" between India and Kashmir.

He said the two countries should address the Kashmir issue "on the basis of dialogue, on the basis of efforts to reduce tension, to avoid violence and to respect human rights."

Singh, the Indian minister, acknowledged that the United States and India do not always see eye to eye but suggested the disagreement was manageable.

"As two democracies we could disagree on an event but we don't necessarily need to be disagreeable about the disagreement, and we can work together," he said.


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