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Saturday, 9 March, 2002, 10:16 GMT
India rebuffs Pakistan talks offer
Anti-India protest in Pakistan
Feelings have been running high on both sides
Indian Home Minister LK Advani has turned down an invitation by his Pakistani counterpart, Moinuddin Haider, to visit Islamabad for talks.


Experiences in the past few years have shown that there is no need for talks

Indian Home Minister LK Advani
Mr Advani, a senior figure in the BJP-led government in Delhi, said he was grateful for the invitation, but could see no sense in dialogue while Pakistan was backing militants in Indian-administered Kashmir.

"They have to first prove at the ground level that they want to end terrorism," Mr Advani was quoted as saying.

The invitation was the latest in a series of overtures to India made by Pakistan to try to reduce the tension over the attack on the Indian parliament in December.

India blamed the attack on Islamic militants backed by Pakistan.

Military build-up

The invitation was conveyed on Friday by the Pakistani interior minister via Sushma Swaraj, India's Information Minster, who is visiting Islamabad for a regional conference.

Indian army convoy
India denies any reduction in troop levels
Earlier, Pakistan had said it was ready to restore direct air links with India, severed in the wake of the Delhi parliament attack.

Both countries moved huge numbers of troops and military equipment to their common border after the attack, prompting fears of a major conflagration in the region between the two nuclear-capable powers.

The stand-off has continued ever since.

And India has denied reports that it has begun reducing its troop numbers along the border.

Defence Minster George Fernandes said Indian troops would not be withdrawn until Pakistan agreed to hand over those named on a list of 20 people Delhi describes as "terrorists and criminals".

India also says Pakistan should do more to show it intends to crack down on extremist groups, as promised by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

See also:

06 Mar 02 | South Asia
Indian minister goes to Pakistan
29 Jan 02 | South Asia
India snubs Pakistan over talks
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
Bush urges Pakistan-India dialogue
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Pakistan to regulate religious schools
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