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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Pakistan's pledge buoys US envoy
Islamic militants in Kashmir
Stopping cross-border infiltration remains a key issue
Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has told America's Kashmir peace envoy he will do everything possible to avoid war with India.

US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage said he was "very heartened" by the Pakistani pledge and will seek a similar commitment from India when he arrives in Delhi on Friday.

An Indian refugee
Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by fighting
Mr Armitage's mission is part of high-level diplomatic efforts by the US to avoid the outbreak of war over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Attacks continued along the Line of Control between areas administered by nuclear enemies India and Pakistan, with two toddlers among those killed in the shelling.

Mr Armitage, a frank-speaking foreign policy veteran, said he had had "wonderful discussions" with the Pakistani leader for nearly two hours in Islamabad.

Enlarge image Enlarge map
"President Musharraf has made it very clear that he is searching for peace and he won't be the one to initiate a war," he said.

"I will be hopefully getting the same type of assurances tomorrow in Delhi."

Mr Armitage's talks with the leaders of Pakistan and India follow telephone calls from US President Bush urging President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to "draw back from war".

And on Thursday, President Bush spoke by telephone to Russian President Vladimir Putin about how to calm the Kashmir crisis.

Pressure for peace will remain high with the arrival in the troubled region next week of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Border security disagreements

A key area of disagreement between India and Pakistan is how to police the Line of Control to stop Islamic militants entering from the Pakistani side to launch attacks on Indian posts.

India has suggested joint patrols, but Pakistan wants international scrutiny, which India has rejected.

Richard Armitage
1945: Born
1967: Graduates from Naval Academy
1975-76: Posted to Tehran as Pentagon consultant
1981-83: Deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia and Pacific affairs
1983-89: Assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs
1989-92: Missions in Philippines and Mid-East
1992-93: Directs US assistance to new independent states of former USSR
2001: Confirmed deputy secretary of state

India is refusing any negotiation until the Line of Control is secure.

President Musharraf told Mr Armitage that militants were not infiltrating Indian-administered Kashmir from Pakistan.

The BBC Islamabad correspondent, Susannah Price, says Mr Armitage appeared to be less sceptical than previous foreign visitors about President Musharraf's assurances that he is not helping the militants.

Mr Armitage also said he was confident that the build-up of one million troops in Kashmir was not adversely affecting Pakistan's part in mopping up remnants of al-Qaeda on its border with Afghanistan.

The situation in Kashmir was also addressed at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers and their East Asian counterparts in Madrid.

Fighting intensifies

Indian and Pakistani forces have been trading heavy artillery and gunfire along their border on an almost daily basis since an attack on India's parliament in December which Delhi blames on Pakistan-based militants.

But the shelling intensified on Thursday.

Two girls, cousins, aged two years and 18 months, died when an Indian shell landed on their home in Taroti village in Abbaspur sector, Poonch Deputy Commissioner Liaquat Hussain said.


A soldier
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


Mr Hussain said another three-year-old girl had received serious injuries in the attack.

India said it had killed a wanted militant, Mohammad Rafiq Lone, on a raid on his Srinagar hideout.

Separately, militants killed two Indian policemen in a gunfight and at least four civilians were killed in 24 hours.

In the southern Kotli district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, police said a woman and three boys had been killed by Indian shelling.

India has also launched extra security for railways, bridges, canals and dams in the Punjab region in what could be preparation for wartime internal security measures.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Susannah Price reports from Islamabad
"The US secretary of state called this a good basis on which to go forward"
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05 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | UK Politics
06 Jun 02 | South Asia
05 Jun 02 | UK Politics
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
06 Jun 02 | South Asia
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