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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Analysis: US moves into South Asia
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Rumsfeld is looking for binding commitments

Much of the talking between US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Indian ministers was about monitoring along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

A Pakistani soldier in Kashmir
Pakistan is unimpressed with India's moves

Indian politicians were firm that no third party should be involved in the task of detecting whether Islamic militants were crossing from Pakistan into Indian-administered Kashmir.

They were unimpressed by suggestions floated a week ago that US and British troops might have a role patrolling along the line.

The American Defence Secretary said some forms of monitoring were discussed involving hi-tech sensors, but he said no decision had been taken and a number of options had been examined.

But the most significant move in the past week of diplomatic manoeuvring was the decision by India to withdraw its fleet from close to the Pakistan coast and send five of its warships back to the Bay of Bengal.

De-escalation

This was nothing short of military de-escalation and exactly what the international community, led by the United States, had been looking for.

India was very keen that it should be seen as a decision taken by a sovereign nation on evidence from Kashmir that cross border infiltration by Islamic militants had shown signs of decreasing.

They did not want it to be perceived as a reaction to pressure from the US to get it done ahead of the visit of Mr Rumsfeld.

The breakthrough, if that is not too strong a word, came during the preceding visit by US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

He brought the word "permanent" with him from Islamabad.

Pakistan had agreed to a permanent halt to cross-border infiltration, he said.

He made it clear during meetings with Indian politicians that this was firm commitment from Islamabad, which the US considered binding.

Reducing tensions

So the process of tension-reduction began - the opening of airspace to Pakistani airlines, the naval re-deployments and signals that a new Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad was in the offing.

 US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage
Armitage: breakthrough talks

India now feels the ball to be in the Pakistan court.

But Pakistan has reacted to India's moves unenthusiastically, saying that there is far more that India could be doing to reduce tension.

All this has happened against a backdrop of travel warnings to non-Indians of various nationalities to leave the country.

The United States and Britain were the first to urge their citizens to leave, Japan went as far as to charter a special flight to get some of its nationals out.

In Europe in particular some countries have considered this a gross over-reaction.

Countries like France have said yes, the situation is worrying but it is too early to encourage people to leave, and certainly the message from the streets of Delhi has been unwavering.

Despite the bellicose language and posturing, very few Indians have expected their country to go to war with Pakistan.

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12 Jun 02 | South Asia
11 Jun 02 | South Asia
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08 Jun 02 | South Asia
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