Powell Meets with Pakistan Leader, Then Heads to India

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:10 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled to India Tuesday, after a cordial meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

The two leaders agreed that a broad-based government - including moderate elements of the ruling Taliban - should play a role in rebuilding Afghanistan. Pakistan does not support the opposition Northern Alliance, which controls up to ten percent of Afghanistan.

Musharraf told reporters, "Former (Afghanistan) King Zahir Shah, political leaders, moderate Taliban leaders, elements from the Northern Alliance, tribal elders, Afghans living outside their country ... all can play a role in this government."

According to Powell, it's only a matter of time before the Taliban collapsed. "The regime is under enormous pressure," he said.

During their joint news conference, Powell thanked Musharraf for his support in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. Noting the sudden improvement in relations between the two countries, Powell said, "I made the point to the president that this isn't just a temporary spike in the relationship.

"We believe as a result of the actions taken by Pakistan over the last five weeks we truly are at the beginning of a strengthened relationship, a relationship that will grow and thrive," Powell added.

India concerned about US ties with Pakistan

While Powell visits the leaders of Pakistan and India, hostilities are escalating between the two nations.

For a second day on Tuesday, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire across the border in divided Kashmir, the Himalayan region that both nations claim. A few weeks ago, Pakistan-backed militants bombed a state legislature in India-controlled Kashmir.

President George W. Bush on Monday urged both nations to cool things down. "I think it is very important that India and Pakistan stand down during our activities in Afghanistan and, for that matter, forever," Bush told reporters.

Bush said one of the reasons he sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region was to talk to both sides about the need for restraint. Both Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, and U.S. officials have called the region one of the most dangerous places in the world.