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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
India offers Afghans aid
President Musharraf (left) and Prime Minister Vajpayee (second right)
Both countries support the US-led coalition
India and Pakistan are to discuss a plan to send Indian humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, possibly over land.

The offer was made by Delhi in a rare telephone conversation between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

The two leaders also discussed the possibility of co-operation in the fight against terrorism.

Both Pakistan and India support the US-led coalition, but tensions between them persist over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Perpetrators of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir are based in Pakistan and your government has done nothing to nab them

Atal Behari Vajpayee
A spokesperson for the Indian foreign ministry said the aid offer had been welcomed and would consist largely of medical supplies.

Pakistan also urged India to send its foreign minister to Islamabad to continue a faltering peace process if Mr Vajpayee was himself unable to visit.

"If there is [a] difficulty that he [Vajpayee] cannot come soon, then perhaps the foreign minister can visit as soon as possible," Pakistan Foreign Ministry's additional secretary, Aziz Khan, said at a news briefing.

A summit meeting in July failed to resolve differences between the two countries, especially over Kashmir.

'End hostility'

During his phone call, Mr Musharraf invited Mr Vajpayee and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh to visit Pakistan "sooner rather than later", saying it was time for the two sides to tone down their hostile rhetoric

India has accused a militant group based in Pakistan - Jaish-e-Mohammad - of carrying out a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir which killed 38 people last week.

"Perpetrators of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir are based in Pakistan and your government has done nothing to nab them," Mr Vajpayee was quoted as saying during the 15-minute phone conversation.

President Musharraf expressed his condolences for those who died and promised to inquire into the allegations.

But on Monday the general had said that the struggle of Kashmiri groups could not be equated with terrorism.

"Kashmir can't be identified with terrorism because there is a freedom struggle going on," he told a news conference.

Kashmir can't be identified with terrorism, because there is a freedom struggle going on

Pervez Musharraf

"He also told the Indian prime minister that the two countries must look at the root causes of tension in their region and, in this context, resolve the Kashmir dispute," the spokesman said.

It was the two leaders' first conversation since the 11 September terror attacks in the United States.

At least 30,000 people have died in nearly 12 years of insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir.

The two countries have fought two wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

See also:

01 Oct 01 | South Asia
Militants attack Kashmir assembly
08 Oct 01 | South Asia
Indians watch Afghan crisis keenly
29 Jul 01 | South Asia
India PM attacks 'clueless' Musharraf
06 Jul 01 | South Asia
India and Pakistan: Troubled relations
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