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Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
India pulls back warships
Pakistani soldiers patrol the line of control
Despite continuing violence, tension has eased
India has announced that it is pulling back its warships deployed off the coast of Pakistan as part of continuing efforts to ease tensions over Kashmir.

A Kashmiri protester
How crisis built:

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

Commander Rahul Gupta of the Indian Navy told the BBC that all ships deployed in the western coast had been ordered to return to base.

It follows a decision on Monday to lift a six-month old ban on the use of its airspace by Pakistani flights and comes ahead of a visit by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Speaking in Qatar, Mr Rumsfeld said tensions between India and Pakistan appeared to be "on a level as opposed to an escalating situation".

Mr Rumsfeld, who arrives in India later on Tuesday, said there were now "hopeful signs" that war between the nuclear-armed neighbors could be averted.

More steps

Reacting to India's announcement, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said more needed to be done and that the move was "a very small beginning".

There is a growing awareness on the part of everyone in the world that clearly a conflict there would be a terrible tragedy for each of those countries

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
"We are looking for genuine steps, not cosmetic or peripheral," he told a news conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

"The real response that we are looking for is initiation of a dialogue... on the core Kashmir dispute and all other issues which bedevil relations between India and Pakistan," the general added.

US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, who has just returned from a peace mission in India and Pakistan, told the BBC he expects India will take more steps in the coming days to improve the situation.

India is also expected to shortly name a new envoy to head its diplomatic mission in Islamabad.

Analysts say India could be withholding news of further concessions until the visit of Mr Rumsfeld, who arrives later on Tuesday.

Others say the mixed messages could hint at disagreement within the Indian leadership, with some elements still determined not to ease the pressure on Pakistan.

Diplomatic pressure

Mr Armitage said he was satisfied that General Musharraf was doing all he could to end infiltration across the Line of Control that separates Indian from Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Enlarge image Enlarge map

Washington is keeping up the pressure for a further de-escalation of what is still seen as a very dangerous confrontation.

Pakistan's ambassador to the United Nations said India should start the withdrawal of troops from Kashmir, where it had been the first to deploy extra forces.

Border violence

Despite the easing of tension, the authorities on both sides reported exchanges of mortar fire along the Line of Control.

An Indian army officer was killed in Pakistani shelling across the Line of Control on Tuesday morning, the Indian army said.

Five civilians were injured.

And reports from Pakistani-administered Kashmir say six people were killed when an Indian artillery shell landed on their home.

In a separate development in Indian-administered Kashmir, schools and businesses have shut down in response to a strike called by an alliance of separatist groups.

The All Party Hurriyat Conference is protesting against the recent arrest of a senior separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, under a controversial anti-terrorism law.

The BBC's Adam Mynott reports from Delhi
"This is a significant movement"
Nisar Memon, Pakistani Information Minister
"India needs to do a lot more"
Commander Rahul Gupta, Indian Navy
"They will take about two days to return to Bombay"

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See also:

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