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India 'welcomes' cease-fire offer

Despite the ceasfire announcement, fighting continued in Srinagar.
Despite the ceasfire announcement, fighting continued in Srinagar.

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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- India says it will respond positively to Pakistan's offer of a cease-fire in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

On Sunday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali said his troops would stop firing along the Line of Control (LOC) that divides Kashmir between the two South Asian neighbors.

India's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Navtej Sarna on Monday said New Delhi welcomed Pakistan's offer, but he added India wants Islamabad to stop militants crossing into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Sarna refused to give any details on what he meant by "will respond positively" or to say when India would impose a cease-fire.

But he did say India was also offering a cease-fire on the Siachen Glacier, to the north of the LOC.

Both nations routinely exchange fire along the U.N.-drawn LOC, a 1972 cease-fire line that separates Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim in its entirety.

Kashmir has been a flashpoint for India and Pakistan for more than half a century and the nuclear-armed rivals have fought two wars since independence from Britain over the Himalayan region.

More than a dozen guerrilla groups have been battling Indian rule in India's part of Kashmir almost since independence and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

Indian officials estimate 38,000 people have been killed during the 11-year military insurgency and blame Pakistan for stoking the conflict.

India says Pakistan trains, arms and funds the militants and orders them to attack Indian military and civilian targets.

Pakistan denies the charge, saying it only extends moral support to groups campaigning for the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination.

Pakistan said the cease-fire will begin with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which ends the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The holiday will take place Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the call of clerics who sight a new moon.

Last year, the two sides stood on the brink of war following an attack on India's parliament building in December 2001 that New Delhi blamed on Islamic militant groups backed by Pakistan.

Tensions have eased somewhat recently, with the two countries moving to restore travel links and allow sports competitions. (Full story)


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