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Russia backs India on terror

Soldier frisks
The situation in Kashmir remains extremely tense  

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Russia's foreign affairs minister has condemned "continued acts of cross-border terrorism against India" and supported that country's demand Pakistan clamp down on groups India blames for the attacks.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's sentiments were contained in a joint statement he issued with Jaswant Singh, Indian Minister of External Affairs, during his visit to New Delhi Sunday.

India has charged that Pakistan is backing Muslim extremist groups that have staged a number of terrorist attacks, including the deadly one in December against the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of troops from the nuclear-armed countries remain poised at their common border.

Last month, Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf, announced a ban on four militant Islamic groups, including two that were blamed for the December 13 attack on the Indian Parliament that killed 14 people.

"However, this commitment can only be judged by the concrete action it takes on the ground," the ministers said.

India-Pakistan standoff 

Ivanov and Singh said Pakistan also must stop terrorists from crossing the "Line of Control" that divides the disputed region of Kashmir and fomenting terrorist violence there.

The two did note, however, that "sustained and irreversible steps in this direction will create a conducive environment for the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan."

Recent peace proposals talks by Pakistan have been firmly rejected, with India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last month calling on Islamabad to vacate the part of Kashmir it controls before any talks could be held.

But Vajpayee Sunday appeared to soften this stance, saying the return of parts of Kashmir to India would not be a "precondition" for talks, although the issue would top the agenda of any talks held, the Hindustan Times reports.

He said the involvement of Pakistani nationals in an attack on the American Center in Kolkata last month clearly showed Pakistan continued to fund and train terrorists despite joining the international coalition against terrorism.

Vajpayee also ruled out suggestions the current Line of Control in Kashmir could one day become an international border between the two nations.

Militant groups in the Kashmir territory have battled Indian rule there for about 12 years with estimates of the death toll varying from 33,000 to 80,000 people.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over Kashmir.

The ministers repeated their countries' commitment to aiding the global war against terrorism, agreeing that terrorism threatens Russia and India and "represents a grave violation of human rights and a crime against humanity."

They supported the U.S.-led campaign that ousted the Taliban regime from power in Afghanistan and which seeks to eradicate Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, and they noted the reach of al Qaeda and the Taliban beyond the Afghan borders.

The role of the United Nations is crucial in fighting terrorism, the ministers said, and they welcomed the establishment of a committee within that body to monitor the obligations of nations in the struggle.




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