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Grave concern at escalating India/Pakistan tension


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

29 May 2002

NZ Govt expresses grave concern over escalating India/Pakistan tensions

The New Zealand Government has expressed its grave concern over the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

Mr Goff met with India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, Bal Anand while Pakistan’s Canberra-based High Commissioner accredited to New Zealand, Khizar Hayat Khan met with the New Zealand Deputy High Commissioner in Canberra.

Mr Goff asked Mr Anand to convey New Zealand’s strong concerns to Prime Minister Vajpayee and urged him to take steps to defuse the situation.

“New Zealand is hugely concerned at the escalating tension between the two nations. We are not taking sides on the issue but are urging both India and Pakistan to step back from the brinkmanship of recent weeks.

“This situation has the potential to spiral out of control and that would be catastrophic for those countries and indeed for the world.

“Both sides have nuclear weapons and Pakistan has made it plain that it would resort to such weapons if it faced a sufficiently serious threat.

“An analysis by the US Defence Intelligence Agency estimates between eight and twelve million people would be killed in a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan.

“There are no winners in such a conflict. The stakes are enormous and both sides need to take a step back.

“New Zealand unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks on the Indian Parliament and the Jammu/Kashmir Parliament last year and the 14 May attack on the Indian army base in Kashmir.

“Strong and courageous leadership are needed on both sides. I have urged Pakistan to bring to justice those responsible for the terrorist attacks and for President Musharraf to follow through on his speech of 12 January this year when he undertook to stop cross-border acts of terrorism by Kashmiri militants.

“I have also urged India not to initiate any military action that could have the effect of advancing the agenda of those forces who may seek to ignite a conflict on the Sub Continent.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advisory to New Zealanders is against all travel to India and Pakistan.

“New Zealanders in both countries are advised to consider leaving by commercial means. Those who stay should monitor the situation closely and register with the New Zealand High Commission in Delhi.

“We are monitoring the situation daily working in conjunction with the British, American, Canadian and Australian missions in those countries,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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