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Tuesday, August 31, 1999 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK


World: South Asia

India rejects plane compensation call

Jaswant Singh: Pakistani compensation claim "futile"

India has rejected a Pakistani demand that it pay more than $60m dollars in compensation for shooting down a naval surveillance aircraft earlier this month.

Kashmir Conflict
The Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh, said the plane was a combat aircraft that had violated India's airspace.

"This attempt by Pakistan is futile, to cover up its airspace violation and misadventure in Kargil," he told journalists.


[ image:  ]
Pakistan announced its compensation claim on Monday, saying that the two countries were not in a state of war at the time of the shooting down of the aircraft.

All 16 crew on board were killed when the plane was shot down.

Delhi said the plane entered Indian airspace over the western state of Gujarat and was shot down by a jet fighter after refusing to land.

But Islamabad says the French-made Atlantique plane was unarmed and on a routine training flight in the Sir Creek area in Sindh province, southern Pakistan.

Both countries said they had retrieved the wreckage of the plane within their own territory.

India and Pakistan came to the brink of a fourth war in the 52 years since independence just a few months ago, when hostilities broke out between the Indian armed forces and Pakistani-backed fighters across the Line of Control in Kashmir.

Although fighting in the region ended last month, sporadic shelling between the two sides has continued.

There has also been an increase in militant activity in Indian-administered Kashmir with Indian military coming under attack.



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