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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
India cool on Pakistan offer
Indian soldiers in Kashmir
There have been a series of attacks in Kashmir recently

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is unlikely to visit Pakistan in the near future, despite an invitation by his counterpart, Zafarullah Jamali.

Mr Vajpayee will only make such a trip once Islamabad stops supporting cross-border infiltration into Indian-administered Kashmir by Islamic militants, a spokesman his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party said on Tuesday.

Pakistan's information minister has dismissed the comments as "an old allegation".

The offer of talks came during an unprecedented phone call between the two premiers on Monday.

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says Prime Minister Jamali is still optimistic about the prospects for an early resumption of talks.

Even as both sides appeared to make conciliatory moves, 11 militants and six army soldiers were killed in a four-hour gun battle in Indian-administered Kashmir.

India has also successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile, the Prithvi, from a launch-pad in the eastern state of Orissa.

No travel plans

"The prime minister said he has not accepted Jamali's invitation to visit Pakistan," BJP spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

If funding from the West to separatists is stopped, the Kashmir issue will die
Varughis John, India

Mr Vajpayee's comments came at a meeting of BJP MPs.

But Pakistan Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said the claims of official support for cross-border infiltration were an old allegation.

"We've said many times we are not involved in infiltration," he told BBC World's Asia Today programme.

Correspondents say the telephone conversation was the first high-level contact between the nuclear-armed neighbours since they came to the brink of war last year.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.

'Weapons recovered'

Tuesday's violence in Kashmir broke out in the mountainous forest of Bharat, about 170 kilometres (106 miles) north-east of Jammu in the district of Doda, police say.

They say troops noticed the movement of a group of militants. The area was cordoned off and, as the troops closed in, officials say the militants opened fire, prompting a prolonged gun fight.

The troops are reported to have recovered weapons and ammunition from the dead militants.

Police said three soldiers were injured in the encounter.

In another incident, the Indian security forces say they have foiled a suicide attack on one of their camps in the frontier district of Kupwara.

The fighting comes just days after three suspected militants and two Indian soldiers died in a suicide attack on the offices of state-run television and radio in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Landmark speech

On Monday Pakistan Prime Minister Jamali made a 10-minute telephone call to India's Prime Minister Vajpayee in a move Islamabad said had ended an 18-month impasse between the two sides.

Mr Vajpayee made an offer of talks the week before last during a landmark speech in the city of Srinagar, the first public address by an Indian prime minister in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir valley for 16 years.

Indian Prithvi missiles in a Republic Day parade
India's Prithvi missiles on display on Republic Day

Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, stressed the importance of the two sides settling their differences by diplomacy.

He told the BBC's World Today programme that a new war would be "devastating" for both countries.

"It's quite obvious that war is not the solution."

But there is no sign that the two countries are scaling back their plans to be ready for nuclear war.

India said on Tuesday it had carried out another test of its medium-range Prithvi missile in the eastern state of Orissa.

"It was successful. The army version of the missile was test-fired," an official told the AFP news agency.

The test comes just over a month after India's last test of the Prithvi missile.

Shortly afterwards Pakistan said it had test-fired its Abdali missile.

The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava
"This refusal should not be seen as any kind of a setback"


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