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Musharraf, Vajpayee Fail to Meet At Asian Summit

BY Admin  June 4, 2002 at 3:50 PM EDT

Attending an Asian summit in Kazakhstan, the two leaders sat at the same table, but did not speak to each other.

“No, I didn’t meet with him. And no, I didn’t shake hands with him,” Musharraf told reporters.

“Everyone was desiring a meeting between me and Mr. Vajpayee,” he added. “I think the whole world is disappointed that we two did not talk and meet here.”

Early Tuesday, during summit talks, the two leaders angrily blamed each other for more than 50 years of conflict between them.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met separately with Musharraf and Vajpayee Tuesday, said the two showed “positive signs” that neither intends to use force to solve their problems.

Putin invited the leaders to Moscow for face-to-face talks aimed at preventing a full-scale war between their nuclear-armed neighbors.

Musharraf accepted the invitation, but the dates of the proposed talks were not settled upon, and it was unclear whether Vajpayee would agree to go.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin also urged India and Pakistan to enter face-to-face talks.

Vajpayee said Tuesday he is willing to have a dialogue with Pakistan, but there must first be a halt to cross-border terrorism, which India says is carried out in its share of Kashmir by Pakistan-based Islamic militants.

Meanwhile, fighting in Kashmir continued as some 1 million Indian and Pakistani soldiers posted along both sides of the 1,800-mile frontier unleashed fresh artillery and gunfire at each other. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but eight civilians died in shelling attacks on Monday.

Kashmir, a region located in the Himalayan Mountains at the northern edge of the border between India and Pakistan, has been at the center of two of the countries’ three wars against each other since their independence from Britain in 1947. India controls 45 percent of Kashmir, Pakistan about 35 percent and China the remainder.