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India and Pakistan Step Up War Rhetoric

From Associated Press

India on Tuesday sharply criticized a speech by Pakistan’s military leader as “disappointing and dangerous” and said Al Qaeda terrorists are now operating in the disputed region of Kashmir.

The nuclear-armed South Asian rivals also cranked up their war rhetoric after Pakistan test-fired another missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the third one since Saturday.

Despite international pressure, India said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee probably would not hold peace talks soon with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“You cannot put a pistol of terrorism to my temple with the finger on the trigger and say, ‘Dialogue with me, or I will release this trigger of terrorism,’” Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said.

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Russian President Vladimir V. Putin offered to bring Vajpayee and Musharraf together in Kazakhstan next week. Pakistan has accepted. Singh, however, reiterated that India would not resume talks until Pakistan stopped attacks in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir by Islamic militants.

India’s defense minister said fighters from Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network and from Afghanistan’s former ruling Taliban are in the Pakistani portion of Kashmir.

“We have information that the number of terrorists who are on the other side of the border.... [are] people who have fled from Afghanistan, Al Qaeda men and Talibanis,” Defense Minister George Fernandes told Star News Television.

Singh said the presence of U.S. troops in the region is not a deterrent to a possible strike on Pakistan.

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Britain, meanwhile, kept up diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

“President Musharraf is under no doubt about expectations of the international community to take action, as well as the action he already has taken, to crack down on cross-border terrorism,” British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said after meeting with Musharraf.

Straw planned to see Vajpayee in New Delhi today.


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