Annan looks to Kazakhstan meeting to defuse India-Pakistan tension

3 June 2002

Concerned over escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today voiced hope that a regional security meeting this week in Kazakhstan will help defuse the crisis.

Speaking to reporters in Ukraine, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Annan also underscored the responsibility of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to avert war.

"The countries have wise leaders and I'm sure they themselves would not want to see a nuclear flare-up," he said. "I hope that the opportunity that the meeting in Almaty has offered would be used wisely and that the discussions that will take place there will pull us away from the brink."

The Secretary-General added that he would "not want to contemplate nuclear war between the two countries," and said he was counting "on the wisdom and the leadership of President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee to ensure that we do not move in that direction."

Mr. Annan also drew attention to the many efforts being made by leaders around the world who were in touch with both leaders constantly "to try and see what we can do to resolve the current situation." He voiced hope that if the current situation was settled, "we will find a way of getting the parties to get into a dialogue so that they can resolve their differences once and for all, and we do not come back to such a confrontation in three to six months time."

Yesterday, after arriving in Ukraine, Mr. Annan told reporters that he looked forward to discussing the situation at his next stop in Russia with President Vladimir Putin, and voiced confidence that both Mr. Putin and President Zhang Zemin of China, both of whom are attending the meeting in Kazakhstan, would be able to dissuade the two countries from any further escalation.

Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson reported today that the world body had decided to relocate dependents of UN international staff working in India and Pakistan. There were 214 people who would be leaving India over the next two to three days while 30 per cent of the 311 UN staff in Pakistan had already departed; by Thursday 98 per cent would have left the country, spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

"International staff, meanwhile, continue to work in both these countries," she said. The UN currently has 288 personnel in Pakistan, and 171 in India.


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