Press AvailabilityRichard Armitage, Deputy Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
June 6, 2002
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE:Good afternoon. I have just had a wonderful lunch and discussion with the Foreign Secretary. This follows a meeting with the Foreign Minister and a rather lengthy hour and forty-five minutes with President Musharraf. I was very happy to congratulate President Musharraf for his fantastic efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom and to discuss a phone call which President Bush had with President Musharraf yesterday. Among other things I might add, President Musharraf was the first to congratulate the United States on our victory in the World Cup soccer. We were able to discuss President Musharraf's comments about the cessation of activities across the line of control. We were able to continue discussions about the search for peace and a search to lower the tensions that exist between Pakistan and India, and I am looking forward very much to traveling tomorrow to Delhi to continue these discussions with my Indian colleagues.
QUESTION: Are you heartened or disheartened about what you saw and heard here today, and why.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist but I would note that the conversations we had with President Musharraf made it very clear to me that he wants to do everything that he can to avoid war. I think thatís a very good basis on which to proceed. Of course he wants to do this, keeping intact the honor and dignity of the nation and the armed forces, but I think we've got a very good basis on which to proceed.
QUESTION: Did the President express any refined position in terms of response to Prime Minster Vajpayee's suggestion of joint patrol on the LoC?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well those kind of discussions would be just the ones I would have privately with our Indian colleagues and Indian officials tomorrow. I donít think it does us any good to discuss those things publicly right now.
QUESTION: The British government today ordered all British citizens today not to travel to Pakistan and those who are here to leave. Is the American government considering any such orders?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The American government has strongly suggested that Americans curtail their travel to India and we've had a voluntary departure status for our Embassy and our Consulates in India.
QUESTION: Are you concerned about the American citizens who remain here?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I am concerned for all citizens and obviously as an American official, particularly concerned for Americans in South Asia. But that's the very reason that the British government, the U.S. government, the President of the United States, the Secretary of State of the United States have spent so much time and energy to bring a de-escalation of tensions about. We want to protect all our citizens.
QUESTION: Have you discussed with the President the diversion of the troops or the reported diversion of troops from the Northwest Frontier over to the Kashmir area?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We did have a short discussion of that. Of course on CNN this past weekend, I noticed the President discussed it very openly and said that some elements had moved. But in the main activities on the Western border of Pakistan seem to be unaffected from my point of view.
QUESTION: Do you feel closer than or further than (from) the kind of scenario people were talking about one week ago about conventional engagement that might escalate beyond that?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I donít know that I can characterize it. I said that President Musharraf has made it very clear that he is searching for peace; that he won't be the one who to initiate war and I will be looking hopefully for the same type of assurances tomorrow in Delhi.
QUESTION: When the President Musharraf came back from Almaty, he said that the he thought that the tensions had been reduced over the past few days or week. Did he convey that assessment to you?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We discussed the actual situation. He is doing what he feels he can to reduce tensions and I have noticed in newspaper accounts both here and in India, an apparent lessening of tensions. But I'll just leave it at that. One more.
QUESTION: Sir, do you think that in the presence of such a large number of troops, infiltrations from Pakistan inside is possible and what is your opinion about UN monitors on the LoC?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well the President of Pakistan has made it very clear that nothing is happening across the Line of Control. We are looking for that to hold over the longer run. On the question of UN observers, it seems to be something that the Indians have dismissed out of hand. We are discussing all sorts of monitoring mechanisms without any prejudices to one way or the other. Thank you very much.
Released on June 6, 2002