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Jiang Meets Musharraf and Vajpayee, Calling for Peace in South Asia
President Jiang Zemin Tuesday urged India and Pakistan to peacefully settle their disputes through negotiation and dialogue as tensions centered on the disputed Kashmir region continued.

Jiang Tuesday held separate meetings with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the sidelines of the first summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia.

China and its two South Asian neighbors are all members of the 16-member multilateral forum for Asian peace and security.

Speaking of the current dispute between India and Pakistan, Jiang told Musharraf and Vajpayee separately that it was a question left over by history and that China sincerely hoped the two sides would settle the problem peacefully.

The two countries have traded heavy fire across a ceasefire line in disputed Kashmir, with the situation threatening to erupt into war.

Musharraf told Jiang that Pakistan hopes for peace and opposes war, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Pakistan will never initiate war and hopes to negotiate with India, the spokesman quoted Musharraf as saying.

The disputed Kashmir region sparked two of the three wars between India and Pakistan, both of which claim the region in its entirety.

Jiang told Musharraf that China supports Pakistan's attempts at restraint and its great efforts to ease the tension. Jiang said this was in the interests of India and Pakistan, as well as of South Asia as a whole.

Both Musharraf and Vajpayee expressed their willingness to develop stable and mutually beneficial relations with China.

Tuesday morning, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan met his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov. They agreed that peace and stability in South Asia are in the interests of both China and Russia, which share the same stand on related issues.

The two foreign ministers agreed to continue their efforts to reduce the current tension in South Asia.

In anther development, Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen, who is accompanying Jiang at the summit, met Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky.

Qian urged all parties involved in the Middle East conflict to cooperate with the mediation efforts of the international community and take effective measures to ease the tension between Israel and Palestine.

(China Daily June 5, 2002)

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