Powell off to India, Pakistan

Monday, October 15, 2001

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Colin Powell headed to Asia Sunday on a diplomatic mission intended to keep tensions between Pakistan and India from further complicating the U.S. anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been supporting Islamic militants who seek an end to Indian rule in the predominantly Muslim region of Kashmir. A terrorist attack last week in the Indian sector of Kashmir killed about 40 people.

Powell will try to see if there were a way "to lower the temperature" before the two countries.

Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, has cooperated with U.S. efforts to track down Osama bin Laden and go after his Taliban government in nearby Afghanistan. Musharraf has allowed American military aircraft to land in Pakistan and has granted the United States use of at least two air bases.

Mindful of that cooperation, President Bush last month lifted sanctions against Pakistan and India that were imposed after the two nations tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

The sanctions barred economic and military assistance to the two countries.

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