WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) _ With warfare escalating
between nuclear powers India and Pakistan, the Clinton administration has urged both
nations to rely on dialogue rather than guns to settle their differences.
State Department spokesman James Rubin says U.S. Ambassador Richard Celeste delivered that message in New Delhi to Indian defense and foreign ministers, while a senior American diplomat in Islamabad pressed those points on the Pakistani prime minister's foreign policy adviser.
``We have instructed our embassies to express our concerns about the fighting and urged both countries to work to reduce tensions,'' State Department spokesman James Rubin told news agencies during a conference call. ``The fighting in recent days undermines the pressing need for India and Pakistan to resolve their differences.''
Indian and Pakistani troops regularly skirmish along
the border of Kashmir, to which both nations lay claim, but U.S. officials say the
conflict is more disconcerting since both nations have now tested nuclear weapons.
Tensions escalated dramatically when the Indian air force struck at what it claimed were Pakistani inflitrators in the picturesque Himalayan province, and they appear to have reached a boiling point after Islamabad said today it downed two of New Delhi's jet fighters.
Washington was surprisingly sanguine given the dramatic turn of events between the two nuclear-weapons states, both of which conducted multiple atomic tests last year. The Clinton administration has presented itself as taking the lead in efforts to reduce tensions between the two foes, who have fought three wars since partition of the subcontinent five decades ago, giving Deputy Secretary of State Talbott responsibility for managing the crisis.
But Talbott, the Clinton administratation's
point-man for negotiating an end to the war against the former Yugoslavia, has his hands
full this week shuttling between European capitals and Moscow. U.S. officials, speaking
under conditions of anonymity, say it is unlikely Talbott will break away from the
Yugoslav talks to visit India or Pakistan.