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Saturday, 13 July, 2002, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Kashmir infiltration 'in decline'
Indian soldier in Kashmir
Both countries have forces massed on the border
The United States says there has been a significant decline in infiltration by Pakistani-backed militants into Indian-held Kashmir.

Pakistan's President Musharraf pledged to curb the activities of militants fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir after tensions with India almost erupted in May.

Colin Powell
Colin Powell: Due to hold talks later in July
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, briefing journalists about a visit to Asia by Secretary of State Colin Powell, said the US wanted the decline made permanent.

Although both India and Pakistan have stepped back from the brink, they still have huge numbers of troops massed along their common border.

Their confrontation has caused serious international concern, as they both possess nuclear weapons.

More steps

Richard Boucher said the US was continuing to look for actions from both sides that could help ease tension.

These would include the shutting down of militant camps in Pakistani-held Kashmir and a continued reduction of India's military build-up.

And he said the US wanted "to keep on the agenda" the issue of dialogue between the two countries.

India has said there is no point in opening talks with Pakistan until President Musharraf does more to curb what Delhi calls "cross border terrorism."

The recently-appointed Indian Foreign Minister, Yashwant Sinha, has also said that Pakistan had reneged on its promise to curb militant infiltration.

Mr Powell is due to visit both India and Pakistan towards the end of July before travelling on to south-east Asia.

Last month, both Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage visited Delhi and Islamabad to calm rising tensions.

Both countries are allies of the US in its war against terror and Washington is anxious to prevent the dispute over Kashmir overshadowing the wider campaign against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

India and Pakistan have fought two out of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir.

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