India, Pakistan moving toward talks

Monday, July 29, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Secretary of State Colin Powell refused Sunday to back the claim by Pakistan's president that his government had stopped militant Muslims from crossing the disputed Kashmiri border into India, but said tensions between the rivals have eased.

The crossings are a major source of friction between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who came close to war earlier this year. India says it will not consider dialogue with Pakistan until they are stopped.

"Everybody agrees that it has gone down," Powell said of infiltrations at a news conference in the Pakistani capital at the end of a two-day visit to the Asian subcontinent. "Some say significantly, some say it's only temporary and not yet significant."

"With respect to the U.S. position, we are monitoring this carefully," Powell said. "We still are not able to say that they have been stopped, though they have gone down."

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, however, said Sunday that he had done all there was to do to stop Islamic militants from crossing the disputed border into Indian-ruled Kashmir, where a bloody secessionist uprising has killed 60,000 people since it began in 1989.

"It is not taking place now. Whatever the Indian side is saying is absolutely baseless," said Musharraf, who was not at the news conference.

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