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India rejects Kashmir talks call

Musharraf accused India of starting an arms race in South Asia.
Musharraf accused India of starting an arms race in South Asia.

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NEW YORK -- India's foreign minister has rejected a Pakistani invitation for talks on Kashmir, describing the disputed Himalayan territory as an "inalienable part of India."

Yaswant Sinha made his comments to university students in New York shortly after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf broached the idea during his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

In his speech Musharraf called on India to take part in what he called a "sustained dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute," accusing New Delhi of starting a South Asian arms race.

"India is embarked on a massive build-up of its conventional and non-conventional military capabilities -- advanced offensive aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, ABM systems, nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier," Musharraf said.

In Kashmir itself, he said, India was involved in "suppressing" the "legitimate struggle" of Kashmiris and violating their human rights.

Responding to the speech, Sinha told a gathering of Indian-American students that India had no intention of putting any part of Kashmir up for negotiation.

"What is Pakistan's right to talk about Jammu-Kashmir?" he said, speaking alongside Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpyee at New York's Columbia University.

"Nobody, absolutely nobody, can take an inch of that territory away from us," he added.

India and Pakistan, both declared nuclear powers, have fought three wars since gaining independence from the UK in 1947 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Last year the two countries stood on the brink of another war amid a row over what India said was Pakistan's support for Islamic militants staging attacks on Indian territory.

Most recently India has accused Pakistan of involvement in last month's near simultaneous car bombings in Mumbai, the country's financial capital, that killed 53 people and wounded scores more.

Pakistan has denied involvement in any terrorist attacks, saying it only gives moral support to groups seeking the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.


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