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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
India's mixed Kashmir messages
General Musharraf (centrte)
General Musharraf is willing to meet the Indian premier
India is giving out conflicting signs over whether it will resort to war over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Reports on Monday suggested officials were trying to dispel the impression that war was imminent.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee arrives in Almaty
Vajpayee says Musharraf must halt "cross-border terrorism"
But Deputy Foreign Minister Omar Abdullah rejected the notion that Delhi was softening its approach, saying that India would fight "Pakistan-sponsored terrorism" alone if necessary.

Meanwhile, violence has continued in the disputed region of Kashmir, with Indian security forces claiming to have killed a member of a Pakistani-based militant group accused of attacking the Indian parliament in December.

Kazakhstan meeting

International efforts to defuse the tension are focussed on a regional security conference due to begin in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

Both Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee are due to attend.

Russian diplomats are spearheading attempts to arrange talks between the two leaders, and officials from both sides have been locked in negotiations ahead of Tuesday's conference.


Indian soldier at an army camp near the Pakistan border
Rising tension:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on the Kashmir assembly in Srinagar
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on the Indian parliament building in Delhi
14 May 2002:
More than 30 killed in attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir
21 May 2002:
Moderate Kashmiri politician Abdul Ghani Lone shot dead


The Pakistani president said he was ready for unconditional talks with the Indian prime minister.

But Mr Vajpayee has ruled out talks until General Musharraf halts "cross-border terrorism" - a key demand in the bitter stand-off.

"We don't need to come all the way here to have a meeting. We could meet in our country or his [Musharraf's]," said Mr Abdullah.

He rejected the suggestion of a relaxation in India's policy.

"Our view on Pakistan will not change. There will be no softening of our position.

"We have been saying for the past 20 years that we are fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. If the world does not back us, we will fight it alone and end it", he told French news agency AFP.

'No knee-jerk reaction'

But there were also some optimistic signs that war between the two nuclear powers was not imminent.

"There will be no knee-jerk reaction by us in any event", a senior Indian Government official told reporters.

Pakistanis burn an effigy of the Indian premier
Anti-Indian rallies took place in Pakistan on Monday
He said that any new militant attacks would be assessed "against other issues such as the level of infiltration and violence in Kashmir".

Reports in the Indian press also suggest there is evidence that Islamabad is curbing militant operations from across the Line of Control in Kashmir.

According to the reports, Indian officials have intercepted communications from militant groups which suggest they have received an order from Pakistan to halt infiltration - something General Musharraf has publicly pledged to do.

Militant killed

Meanwhile, Indian security forces in Kashmir say they have shot and killed a member of a Pakistani-based militant group which Delhi accuses of being behind an attack on the Indian parliament last December last year.


It is the duty of the government to assert that the situation is not as grim as it appears to these foreigners

Ravi Thapar, Delhi businessman
Riaz Ahmad Siddiqi, a member of the group Jaish-e-Mohammed was killed in a gun battle about 40 kilometres south-east of Srinagar, according to Indian sources.

India accuses Jaish-e-Mohammad and another group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, of organising the attack on the Indian national parliament, in which 14 people were killed.

As the stand-off continues, foreign nationals and non-essential diplomatic staff from many countries continue to leave India and Pakistan.

The first families of United Nations staff began to leave Pakistan on Sunday, and many have already left India.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"India's Prime Minister is the focus of all the attention"
Click here fror background reports and analysis

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See also:

02 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | UK Politics
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
28 May 02 | South Asia
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