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Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent action his Department has taken to try to find a solution to the Indo-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. [106537]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, regularly raises our concerns in relation to Kashmir with the Governments of India and Pakistan. On 24 March the Foreign Secretary telephoned the Indian Foreign Minister to condemn the 23 March massacre of innocent civilians in Kashmir, and to express condolences to the victims" families. We condemn all terrorism wherever it occurs and whatever its purported justification. Violence will not solve Kashmir"s problems. While the dispute between India and Pakistan is at root a bilateral one, the United Kingdom and our international partners stand ready to help both countries to start a process aimed at building confidence, normalising bilateral relations and resolving outstanding differences, including Kashmir.In a 27 March joint United States—United Kingdom statement on the violence in Kashmir, the Foreign Secretary and the US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell encouraged both sides to consider immediately implementing a ceasefire and taking other active steps to reduce tension including by moves within the South Asia Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) context. The differences between India and Pakistan can only be resolved through peaceful means and engagement.