US President George W. Bush says he'll urge solution on Kashmir

U.S President George W. Bush said in an interview broadcast Sunday he would use his upcoming visit to India and Pakistan to urge both sides to find a lasting solution to their dispute over Kashmir.

Kashmir is divided between the South Asian rivals but both claim the Himalayan region in full and have fought two wars over it.

"I will use my trip to urge the leadership to continue solving this issue with the idea that it can be solved," Bush told state-owned Pakistan Television in an interview in Washington, broadcast Sunday.

Bush said his discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh revealed attitudes had changed since he first came to office in 2000.

In 2002, the nuclear neighbors claim close to war, but in the past two years they have pursued peace talks.

"I believe a lasting solution can be achieved," Bush said. "I've seen the progress that's been made in the relations since I first became president."

Pakistan has become a valuable ally of the United States in the war on terror.

Bush said he wanted to use his trip to Islamabad next Saturday to let Pakistanis know "that the American people care about them."

"This is a relationship that's much bigger than the war on terror," said Bush, referring to the American relief response to the Oct. 8 earthquake that devastated Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Bush said "we'll be talking about a bilateral investment treaty" as a step toward increasing trade between the United States and Pakistan, and student exchange programs, reports AP.


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