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Monday, 7 January, 2002, 16:53 GMT
Blair urges Kashmir dialogue
Tony Blair talks to Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar watched by wife Cherie
Tony Blair said the UK wanted current tensions reduced
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged Pakistan and India to hold "proper, meaningful" dialogue aimed at resolving their dispute over Kashmir.

All the killing of innocent civilians does is rip people apart, divide them, and make a solution impossible

Prime Minister Tony Blair
"Both countries in these very difficult times understand the need both to defeat terrorism and resolve difficult issues through dialogue and partnership," Mr Blair told reporters after talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad.

General Musharraf said his country rejected terrorism in all its forms - one of his strongest denunciations of extremists since the current increase in tensions with India began.

The nuclear rivals' military build-up since suspected Kashmiri militants attacked parliament in Delhi last month has brought the region to the brink of war.

Pakistan rejects terrorism in all its forms and and manifestations and has fully cooperated with the international coalition

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf
General Musharraf said Pakistan wanted to begin a dialogue with India "in pursuit of peace and harmony".

He said he planned to take more action against militants in Pakistan, and would address the nation within days.

"We have been a victim of sectarian extremism, sectarian terrorism."

Mr Blair praised General Musharraf for the steps he had taken so far.

He said that the "huge strides forward" that Pakistan was making would not have been possible if it had not backed the military campaign in Afghanistan following 11 September.

Border tension

Despite Mr Blair's efforts, India has ruled out talks with Pakistan for the time being.

Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said there could be no dialogue because there was no apparent change in Pakistan's attitude.

Tony Blair and Atal Behari Vajpayee exchange documents after signing anti-terrorism declaration
The Indian visit appears to have produced little
Talks in the Indian capital, Delhi, on Sunday between Mr Blair and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee resulted in a joint declaration condemning all supporters and sponsors of terrorism.

But there was little indication that Mr Blair's visit had gone any real way towards easing India's position on its neighbour and rival.

Click here for a map of the border area

In the latest incident on the tense border, the Indian army said it had shot down an unmanned Pakistani spy plane. Pakistan denied any of its planes had been involved.

But 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.

Pervez Musharraf
India insists Musharraf must do more
Pakistan argues that India violates UN resolutions in denying Kashmiris under their control a referendum on their fate and allegedly causing civilian casualties.

Downing Street revealed that Mr Blair had already discussed the India-Pakistan crisis with US President George W Bush during a 15-minute telephone conversation on Monday.

But a spokesmam insisted there was no question of Mr Blair carrying a message or a peace blueprint from the White House.

Mr Blair said the whole world had an interest in not allowing the Kashmir dispute to "escalate out of control".

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.

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

India holds two militant groups - Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba - responsible for 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-Toiba said several dozen of its workers were now in prison.

Mr Blair has welcomed the arrests but urged "complete rejection" of terrorism, saying there could be "no halfway house".

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The BBC's Matt Frei reports from Islamabad
"Blair piled on the pressure"
Hardeep Singh Puri, acting Indian High Commissioner
"Pakistan must purge itself of the menace of terrorism"
Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw
"Steps have been made in the right direction"
See also:

07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf on a tightrope
06 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Blair handles diplomacy hazards
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
Blair urges support for Afghanistan
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Powell urges Pakistan to do more
03 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks China's backing
06 Jan 02 | Media reports
Press spins Blair visit
07 Jan 02 | South Asia
War moves spread fear on border
07 Jan 02 | Media reports
Newspapers welcome Blair
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