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India Pledges to Seek Peace but Talks Tough on Kashmir

July 25, 2001|From Reuters

NEW DELHI — India said Tuesday that it would pursue peace with Pakistan but vowed to crush the violent insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir state that has gathered momentum since last week's inconclusive summit.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told Parliament that the bitter foes had achieved a "degree of understanding" during their summit July 15-16 in the Indian city of Agra, even though they could not agree on a joint statement.

"We will build on this to further increase the areas of agreement," he said, offering his first public account of what happened at the summit. "Obviously, India's concerns in vital areas such as cross-border terrorism will have to find [a] place in any document that future negotiations endeavor to conclude."

Five separatists were killed in a battle with Indian security forces Tuesday at Mendhar, 160 miles north of Jammu, the winter capital of the troubled Himalayan state, a defense official said.

Vajpayee told Parliament that he had made it clear to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, that India had the "resolve, strength and stamina" to counter terrorism and violence in Kashmir until it was "decisively crushed."

Analysts said Vajpayee's tough words appeared to be aimed at fending off domestic criticism over the summit and anger over violence in Muslim-majority Kashmir, where 25 Hindus were killed last weekend.

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