UN Chief Annan in Moscow as Russia Seeks Settlement of Kashmir Crisis

June 2, 2002 - 0:0
MOSCOW -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan begins a three-day visit to Moscow on Tuesday with Russia focusing on efforts to mediate between Pakistan and India whose leaders, bitterly divided over Kashmir, will be attending a regional summit in neighboring Kazakhstan, AFP reported.

Annan is due to hold talks with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov during which he will discuss the Middle East crisis, Iraq and Afghanistan, Russian news agencies said quoting diplomatic sources.

He is also hoping to meet President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti.

Putin, however, has offered to mediate between the leaders of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of a June 3-5 regional conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, designated in principle as a discussion on building confidence in Asia.

Officials in New Delhi said earlier Saturday that Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had extended his stay in Kazakhstan for a further day in order to meet Russian and Chinese leaders to discuss the crisis with Pakistan over Kashmir, which both countries claim.

President Pervez Musharraf was also due to arrive in Almaty on Monday.

Putin, along with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the Indian and Pakistani leaders, is scheduled to be in Almaty on Tuesday, and Annan's meetings in Moscow are likely to be overshadowed by the meetings to the east as leaders attempt to head off an armed conflict between the two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals.

In his talks with Russian officials Annan intends also to discuss the fight against terrorism, regional conflicts in Georgia and the Balkans, disarmament issues and the Russian role in UN peacekeeping operations, ITAR-TASS said.