News

DATE=7/4/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251405 TITLE=INDIA/KASHMIR (L) BYLINE=ANJANA PASRICHA DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: INDIA SAYS IT HAS RECAPTURED A STRATEGIC MOUNTAIN RANGE IN INDIAN KASHMIR. INDIAN COMMANDERS ARE DESCRIBING THIS AS A SIGNIFICANT STEP FORWARD IN THEIR MILITARY CAMPAIGN TO EVICT WHAT NEW DELHI SAYS ARE PAKISTANI-BACKED ARMED INTRUDERS. ANJANA PASRICHA REPORTS FROM NEW DELHI, PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS HELD A TELEPHONE DISCUSSION WITH THE INDIAN PRIME MINISTER ON THE KASHMIR CRISIS. TEXT: THE RECAPTURE OF "TIGER HILLS" CAME AFTER WHAT DEFENSE OFFICIALS DESCRIBE AS A LONG AND HARD BATTLE ON THE SUMMIT. TIGER HILLS IS THE LAST STRATEGIC PEAK OVERLOOKING THE MAIN EAST-WEST HIGHWAY IN KASHMIR. IT IS ONE OF SEVERAL MOUNTAIN RANGES WHICH INDIA SAYS WERE OCCUPIED BY ISLAMIC GUERRILLAS AND PAKISTANI TROOPS EARLIER THIS YEAR. DEFENSE SPOKESMAN COLONEL BIKRAM SINGH DESCRIBES THE CAPTURE OF TIGER HILLS AS A "TURNING POINT" IN INDIA'S MILITARY OFFENSIVE. /// INSERT SINGH ACT /// TIGER HILLS IS THE MOST DOMINATING FEATURE IN DRAS SECTOR, AND WITH CAPTURE OF THIS POSITION, CAPTURE OF THE OTHER REMAINING POSITIONS OF THE ENEMY WOULD BE FACILITATED. IN ADDITION, THE OBSERVATION OF THE ENEMY IN REGARD TO NATIONAL HIGHWAY ONE-ALPHA HAS BEEN ELIMINATED TO A LARGE EXTENT. /// END SINGH ACT /// DEFENSE OFFICIALS SAY THE TYPE OF WEAPONS AND EQUIPMENT SEIZED IN THE BATTLE FOR TIGER HILLS PROVE PAKISTAN'S INVOLVEMENT IN THE INTRUSION -- A CHARGE DENIED BY ISLAMABAD. INDIAN FORCES HAVE SUFFERED HEAVY CASUALTIES IN RECENT DAYS AS THEY LAUNCHED THE FINAL ASSAULT TO GAIN TIGER HILLS BY CLEARING NEIGHBORING RIDGES. MILITARY OFFICIALS SAY HEAVY ARTILLERY FIGHTING IS ALSO CONTINUING FOR CONTROL OF NEIGHBORING MOUNTAINS ALONG THE WINDING KASHMIR BORDER. MEANWHILE, THERE ARE INDICATIONS OF FRESH DIPLOMATIC MOVEMENTS TO SOLVE THE KASHMIR CRISIS THAT HAS RAISED FEARS OF A FOURTH WAR BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN. PRESIDENT CLINTON HAD A TELEPHONE CONVERSATION SATURDAY WITH INDIAN PRIME MINISTER ATAL BEHARI VAJPAYEE, PRIOR TO PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER NAWAZ SHARIF'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON. INDIAN OFFICIALS ARE NOT DISCLOSING DETAILS OF THE TALKS, EXCEPT TO SAY PRIME MINISTER VAJPAYEE HAS REFUSED AN INVITATION BY PRESIDENT CLINTON TO VISIT WASHINGTON, AT AN EARLY DATE. ANALYSTS SAY THE REFUSAL IS PROMPTED BY NEW DELHI'S POSITION THAT THE KASHMIR DISPUTE MUST BE SOLVED BILATERALLY BETWEEN INDIA AND PAKISTAN. BUT FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIALS ARE REITERATING NEW DELHI'S DETERMINATION NOT TO RESUME PEACE TALKS WITH PAKISTAN UNTIL THE FIGHTING IS OVER OR ISLAMABAD WITHDRAWS THE ARMED INTRUDERS. PAKISTAN IS ACCUSING INDIA OF SHUTTING THE DOOR ON EFFORTS TO DEFUSE THE CRISIS BY REFUSING TO HOLD A DIALOGUE. INDIA SAYS PAKISTAN IS SIMPLY TRYING TO -- BUY TIME -- BY PROPOSING TALKS, AND IS NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS OF WITHDRAWING THE GUERRILLAS FROM INDIAN KASHMIR. (SIGNED) NEB/AP/RAE 04-Jul-99 9:24 AM EDT (1324 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .