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Sunday, 6 January, 2002, 16:57 GMT
Blair backs anti-terror pledge
Tony Blair and Atal Behari Vajpayee
Blair called for "proper political dialogue"
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has held talks in the Indian capital, Delhi, with his counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee, in an effort to ease tensions between India and Pakistan.

The two leaders India signed a joint declaration condemning all those who supported and financed terrorism.

Indian soldiers in Delhi
In Delhi, the UK-India summit was tightly guarded
Mr Vajpayee had returned to Delhi a few hours earlier from a regional summit in Nepal, with no sign of any breakthrough in the tense military stand-off over Kashmir.

As his meeting with Mr Blair took place, the Indian army announced that it had shot at an unmanned Pakistani spy plane.

Army sources said the craft entered Indian air space in the Poonch sector at 1500 (0930GMT) on Sunday.

"We don't know if it has crashed or gone back to Pakistan," said a spokesman for the Indian Army's northern command.

Click here for a map of the border area

Local witnesses said the plane had flown eight kilometres (five miles) into Indian air space, prompting a heavy exchange of artillery fire between Indian and Pakistani troops.

There was widespread panic in Poonch, as residents thought war had broken out.

The Pakistani military said it was in fact an Indian plane that had come down, and India was trying to deflect blame on to Pakistan.

"This propaganda is totally baseless and concocted," said Pakistani army spokesman Brigadier Saulat Raza.

"They lost one and just to cover it up they said we did it."

British influence

Mr Blair, who is due to travel on to Pakistan to meet President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, said "the whole international community has an interest that this dispute does not escalate out of control".

Tony Blair
Blair: Seeking to reduce tension
"What is important is that we reach a position where support for terrorism in whatever form stops, so that proper political dialogue can begin," he added.

Mr Vajpayee stressed: "We are ready to discuss issues with Pakistan. India stands for dialogue; we believe in an exchange of views. We believe in negotiations to solve problems."

Pakistan arrests

Police in Pakistan have been continuing to round up members of two Kashmiri Islamic groups blamed by India for the attack on the parliament in Delhi last month.

We must remove the dangerous standoff between India and Pakistan

President Musharraf
At least 40 people were detained in the province of Punjab on Sunday.

India holds two militant groups - Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba - responsible the Delhi attack, and has publicly ruled out any dialogue until Pakistan brings them to justice.

Speaking to the BBC, a spokesman for Jaish-e-Mohammad said more than 90 of its activists had been taken into custody in the past two weeks.

But he said none of its members had been detained in the raids on Sunday.

The other group, Lashkar-e-Taiba said several dozen of its workers were now in prison.

Hot and cold

At the close of the summit, the Indian and Pakistani leaders joined other regional heads of state in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in signing a declaration condemning terrorism.

Pervez Musharraf
India insists Musharraf must do more
The often icy atmosphere of the two-day meeting ended on a warmer note when Mr Vajpayee returned the Pakistani president's earlier goodwill gesture by initiating another handshake.

The Pakistani leader said he and Mr Vajpayee had had "an informal interaction" and that tensions "may not have been eased but they haven't worsened."

We must remove the dangerous standoff between India and Pakistan," he said.

Mr Vajpayee, for his part, said he had exchanged "courtesies" with the Pakistani leader, but they had not held talks.

While the two leaders did not meet separately, diplomatic sources said their foreign ministers, Pakistan's Abdul Sattar and his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh, held talks at their hotel on Saturday.

But Indian officials downplayed the talks, saying there was no "separate substantive meeting" and the discussions were "in the context" of the regional bloc.

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The BBC's Jill McGivering
"This was the key event in Mr Blair's visit to India"
Kashmir author Victoria Schofield
"The only way forward is to have a major round-table"
The Guardian's Michael White and Jenny Tonge MP
debate whether Tony Blair should be focusing his energies at home or abroad
See also:

06 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Blair handles diplomacy hazards
06 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Handshake grabs headlines
06 Jan 02 | Media reports
Press spins Blair visit
06 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Blair to urge Kashmir diplomacy
05 Jan 02 | South Asia
India accepts 'hand of friendship'
04 Jan 02 | South Asia
South Asia's crippled regional body
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Powell urges Pakistan to do more
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Thousands flee rivals' war moves
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks China's backing
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Security increased at Taj Mahal
05 Jan 02 | South Asia
India press gloomy on talks
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