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Wednesday, June 23, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK


World: South Asia

India rejects Kashmir talks

Indian Bofors guns attacked enemy positions in Tiger Hill

India has rejected fresh proposals from Pakistan for talks on the Kashmir conflict, and warned that it could cross the Line of Control if required.


General Malik: Armed intrusion into our territory
Indian Chief of Army Staff General Ved Prakash Malik said at a news conference: "We review the situation all the time and I believe that if it becomes necessary to cross the Line of Control in the supreme national interest, the matter will be taken up in the cabinet."

Kashmir Conflict
Elsewhere, another goods train was derailed in the state of West Bengal on Wednesday, near the site of a similar incident on Monday.

Indian intelligence believes the incidents are aimed at disrupting troop movement to Kashmir.

No talks


The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones: "The two countries' diplomats have been at work"
The toughening of India's stance on a possible diplomatic solution to the Kashmir conflict came after Pakistan on Tuesday renewed an offer to resume peace talks.

India said talks over Kashmir would be possible only after Pakistan guaranteed it would respect the Line of Control dividing the territory.

Indian Foreign Secretary K Raghunath told Indian state television that the Pakistanis had "to rectify what they have done on the ground and vacate the intrusion".

Pakistan's army chief earlier warned that hopes of peace between the two countries were fading.

Assault on peak continues


Mike Wooldridge reports from the front at Batalik
Meanwhile, Indian troops continued their ground offensive to capture a key height from what India says are armed infiltrators occupying the peak.

Reports said heavy firing and close combat was taking place in the Batalik region east of Kargil, near the Line of Control.

"There is shelling and hand-to-hand fighting in Batalik sector ... in Drass they are fighting bunker to bunker," a defence official said in Jammu.

(Click here to see a map of the area)

The target is the 4,500m Tiger Hills to the west of Drass, which the Indian army wants to reclaim after it captured key positions over the weekend.

India says the infiltrators are Pakistani army regulars who are targeting the strategic Kargil-to-Leh highway. Pakistan has denied the charge and says India is raising war hysteria through its claims.

Rail blast denial

Earlier a separatist group, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) accused Indian intelligence of falsely implicating it for an explosion in West Bengal.

Following Tuesday's explosion in New Jalpaiguri railway station, the ULFA 's military wing chief told the BBC that Indian intelligence agents had been calling up media offices and claiming responsibility for the blast on behalf of the organisation.

Indian military officials have said they are convinced that ULFA is responsible for the explosion which killed 10 people, including three soldiers on their way to Kashmir from northeast India.



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