British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Thursday that mounting tensions between India and Pakistan could boil over and create "enormous problems" for global stability if the situation got out of hand.
In Dhaka at the start of a tour that will also take him to India and Pakistan, the British premier said that he would try to exert a "calming" influence on the two nations, which are engaged in their biggest military build-up for 15 years.
"The dangers...are obvious. Two very powerful countries in an area, where traditionally there has been a lot of conflict and instability. It's extremely important given the military capability of both powers that we do everything we can to calm the situation," he said.
Blair said that he had spoken several times to US President George W Bush in the last few days because the situation was so serious. "It is a very serious issue with potentially far-reaching and damaging consequences if the tension gets out of hand," he said. "I have no illusions" about being able to solve the dispute over the border region of Kashmir, he said, adding that it was not his place to do so.
"I'm not going to start telling each country how to run their own affairs. That is not my objective. Of course what we want is for Pakistan to take action against terrorism and on the Indian side to de-escalate tension as much as possible."
The British government played down talk that Blair might act as peacemaker between Pakistan and India. Blair's spokesman said that the prime minister had no magic solution to the problem.
"This is not a visit which is being made in response to recent events," the spokesman said. "It obviously comes at an opportune moment but that does not mean we are going with any blueprint or with any instant solutions."
(People's Daily January 4, 2002)