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`I was correctly quoted on terrorist camps issue'

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD, JULY 15. The visiting United States Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, has said that it is for Pakistan to take a decision on whether or not to send troops to Iraq for peacekeeping purposes.

Addressing a news conference along with the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Riaz Khokhar, here today he, however, maintained that he had not made any request to Islamabad for dispatch of troops to Iraq. Mr. Armitage, who faced some tough questions from journalists on his statements made in New Delhi about terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan, tried to do the balancing act by stating that there was violence and human rights violations in Kashmir. In response to questions about the repeated statements by the U.S. Ambassador in Afghanistan that Pakistan was not "doing enough" in the war against terrorism, Mr. Armitage maintained that Mr. Khalilzad tended to take a "narrow view" of Pakistan in contrast to the broad perspective of Washington. He, however, chose to duck a question on whether the U.S. contemplated change of its envoy in Kabul.

"I was correctly quoted yesterday (in New Delhi) when I noted that all terrorist camps have not been dismantled in Pakistan," Mr. Armitage said immediately after his talks with the official delegation led by Mr. Khokhar. Later, he met a number of Pakistani leaders including the interim Prime Minister, Shujaat Hussain, the Prime Minister-in waiting, Shaukat Aziz, and the Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasur.

On Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Armitage said that some violence in that State was also indigenous. "But it has to be noted that there are lots of different kinds of violence, some across the Line of Control, other indigenous. It all must be stopped so the people of Jammu and Kashmir can have a prosperous life and prosperous future and that is the U.S. policy." Asked about alleged human rights violation by Indian security forces in Kashmir, Mr. Armitage said: "There is absolutely no question that there is violence and violation of human rights in Kashmir. We have discussed this with our Indian friends" during talks in New Delhi on Wednesday.

To another question, he said the U.S. would certainly consider any Pakistan request regarding provision of advanced weapon system to meet its defence needs. Such request will be judged by Pakistan's military and "we will help it as partners."

Referring to the provision of some helicopters to Pakistan, he said the U.S. would continue to provide military assistance to fill security gaps on Pakistan's western borders.

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