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World leaders work to cool conflict

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told his troops to prepare for battle on a visit to Kashmir this week
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told his troops to prepare for battle on a visit to Kashmir this week  


(CNN) -- The European Union's head of external affairs, Chris Patten, has extended a tour of the region to visit officials in New Delhi, after meeting with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad.

Diplomats from the United States and Britain are also trying to help cool off the conflict.

U.S. officials say Secretary of State Colin Powell has spoken with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and plans to talk with Indian leaders soon.

Vice President Dick Cheney said on Larry King Live Wednesday he was worried about the escalating conflict and that "we're very actively engaged in trying to keep the lid on there."

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Powell are coordinating policies ahead of Straw's visit to the region next week. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice spoke with security officials in India and Pakistan and urged calm.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also expressed concern at the "alarming rise of tensions" between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan's request for diplomatic intervention has been rejected by India, so Annan will not visit the region, according to his spokesman, Fred Eckhard.

"He is doing what he can from his bully pulpit but he is not in a position to actively engage as a mediator without the cooperation of both sides," Reuters reported Eckhard as saying.

Kashmir is India's only Muslim-majority state and over the past 12 years more than 33,000 people have been killed as nearly a dozen rebel groups have fought rule from the central government in New Delhi.

India and Pakistan routinely fire at each other across the frontier, but Indian analysts say the current crisis is the worst since an 11-week border conflict in Kashmir in 1999, which nearly developed into war.



 
 
 
 







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