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Wednesday, 5 June, 2002, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
India proposes joint Kashmir patrols
An Indian army soldier takes aim
The suggestion is the first hint that dialogue may be possible
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has said that India will consider monitoring the disputed border in Kashmir jointly with its rival Pakistan.

Mr Vajpayee said they should work together to patrol the border, which India says is being infiltrated by Islamic militants to launch attacks on Indian security forces.


Joint patrolling can be held by India and Pakistan

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee

It is hoped that the suggestion signals an easing of tension - until now Mr Vajpayee has flatly refused the offer of any talks with his Pakistani counterpart President Pervez Musharraf until the infiltrations stop.

Kashmir is at the centre of a growing military crisis between the two nuclear states and recently more than a million troops have been massed along its border.

Monitors rejected

"Joint patrolling can be held by India and Pakistan," Mr Vajpayee said at an Asian security summit in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Although he and Mr Musharraf were attending the same summit, they did not meet individually.

Enlarge image Enlarge map

Britain and the US have both offered to help monitor the border, but Mr Vajpayee dismissed the idea of outside intervention.

"There can be joint verification, but there is no need for third-party verification," he said.

There was no immediate response from Mr Musharraf, who on Tuesday had suggested monitoring by the US or the United Nations was necessary.

India "should not be the accuser and the judge" of movement on the Line of Control, he said.

'Cooperation'

According to the BBC's Central Asia correspondent, Catherine Davis, the idea of joint patrols is not new, but Indian officials say it is the first time it has been suggested in the current situation.

Mr Vajpayee said India was eager for peace but insisted that infiltration by militants would have to stop before any military climbdown could occur.


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


"We want to move away from a path of confrontation to a path of cooperation," he said.

"Once infiltration stops, terrorist camps are dismantled across the border and verification is done, we can consider other steps that will take us toward de-escalation."

Mr Vajpayee has now left Kazakhstan, but his flight back to New Delhi will take around seven hours - four hours longer than usual - as the plane has to avoid flying over Pakistan because its airspace is closed to Indian aircraft.

The international community has been trying to avert a war between India and Pakistan since tensions escalated in December when Islamic militants staged an attack on the Indian parliament.

US efforts

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is preparing to depart for a crisis mission to Pakistan and India on 6 and 7 June.

He will be followed by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who is also due to visit India and Pakistan in the coming days.

However, Mr Rumsfeld has said he is not going to mediate between Islamabad and Delhi, and that his message would will on how events unfold over the next few days.

Meanwhile at the Line of Control, Indian and Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged heavy fire on Wednesday.

An Indian defence official said the two armies had had a "routine exchange", limited to heavy machineguns and sporadic use of mortars. No casualties were reported.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"The Indian prime minister clearly wants to be seen as a peacemaker"
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
"Golden peace has remained hostage"
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
"Terrorist camps operate unhindered across our borders"
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See also:

05 Jun 02 | UK Politics
04 Jun 02 | Media reports
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
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