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Bush to send defense chief to Pakistan
WASHINGTON -- President Bush took a tough line Thursday toward a major ally in the war on terror and demanded that President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan "live up to his word" and crack down on extremists' cross-border attacks that could lead to war with India.
The State Department said it still had no assessment whether Musharraf was making good on his promise last winter to deny Pakistani territory to terrorists, Bush took the initiative as India and Pakistan teetered on the brink.
He also deployed top American officials in the region -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is due there the end of next week -- and said: "We are making it very clear to both Pakistan and India that war will not serve their interests."
Secretary of State Colin Powell weighed a decision, meanwhile, whether to withdraw nonessential U.S. diplomats from India and to advise 60,000 U.S. citizens in the country to leave.
A decision could be announced soon.
Locked in a dispute over the divided territory of Kashmir, and with 1 million troops in a standoff at their frontier, India and Pakistan continued to alarm the world with their troop movements and their rhetoric, with their nuclear armaments looming always in the background.
Powell will send his deputy, Richard Armitage, to India and Pakistan for talks next Thursday and Friday, with Rumsfeld arriving shortly afterward, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
"We have no desire to make ourselves the mediator," Boucher said. Any solution to the Kashmir dispute depends on dialogue and taking into account the wishes of the people of the territory, he said.