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Wednesday, June 9, 1999 Published at 02:43 GMT 03:43 UK

World: South Asia

Kashmir talks confirmed

A mule lies dead in the deserted streets of Drass

Pakistan and India have fixed the date for their first significant attempt to defuse the tension over Kashmir.

Kashmir Conflict
Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz, confirmed that he would visit Delhi on 12 June for discussions.

The date was put forward by the Indian Government earlier on Tuesday.

Mike Wooldridge in Delhi: The first potential step back from the brink
The BBC South Asia Correspondent, Mike Wooldridge, sees the Indian offer as the first potential breakthrough in the conflict over Kashmir.

But he says it cannot be assumed that the talks will necessarily succeed in reducing tension on the frontline.

Cricket fears

Owen Bennett-Jones: It is far from clear how much progress will be made, given the different views of what is happening
The announcement about the talks came just hours before the Super Six encounter between India and Pakistan at Old Trafford.

The police and local authorities are mounting what is believed to be one of the largest security operations for a cricket match in Britain.

There have been appeals from both sides for fans to stay calm during and after the match.

Infiltrators 'Pakistani soldiers'

In the latest round of accustions over the situation in Kashmir, the Indian Army said on Monday that the force that crossed into Indian-administered Kashmir last month consisted "mainly" of Pakistani soldiers, with "a sprinkling of hired Mujahideens" as a façade.

It had previously said that Pakistan was only "backing" the infiltrators.

A senior Indian official said the infiltration was achieved in such a way as to create the false impression that Muslims were engaging in a "holy war" against Indian rule.

India also accused Pakistan of using helicopters to airlift supplies to "infiltrators" who have taken control of territory inside Indian-administered Kashmir.

(Click here to see a map of the area)

Pakistan has consistently denied any involvement beyond political and moral support, describing the men as Kashmiri freedom fighters.

'Heavy casualties'

On Monday, India launched a fresh series of air strikes close to the LoC after a pause in bombing on Saturday. There were also fresh artillery exchanges.

Pakistan's Information Minister Mushahid Hussein denies Pakistan is supporting militants
India says it has inflicted "heavy casualties", killing 221 Pakistani soldiers and losing 60 of its own men with 14 missing.

Pakistan said it had only lost 20 men, adding that the Indians were "suffering heavily".

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