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India Says Not Backing Away from Demand Pakistan Hand Over Terror Suspects


India's foreign minister is insisting the government has not backed away from its demand Pakistan hand over perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks for prosecution on Indian soil.

India is reiterating that Pakistan must hand over those who had a role in planning the Mumbai terror attacks.

This follows reports that New Delhi was willing to allow such trials solely to be held in Islamabad. But India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee says prosecutions must also take place here.

"The dastardly terror crimes have been committed in India," he said. "Therefore the perpetrators must face Indian justice."

Mukherjee earlier had indicated in a television interview that it would be all right for Pakistan to try suspects, if they could not be handed over to India.

Speaking to reporters Friday the foreign minister denied India has given up on its demand for extradition. "There is no question of that - that we have given up this demand or we have climbed down," he said.

The 60-hour siege of Mumbai, India's commercial capital, which began on November 26 left more than 170 people dead. The attackers, who came ashore by boat, attacked luxury hotels, hospitals, rail stations, a popular cafe and a Jewish outreach center.

India has in custody the lone surviving gunman, who India has tied to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group.

India wants Pakistan to extradite 40 fugitives suspected of various terrorist activities here, included the Mumbai attacks.

Pakistan on Thursday announced it had detained 71 members of banned groups, shut down five training camps believed connected to Lashkar and had 124 people under surveillance. But Islamabad insists the dossier presented by India linking Pakistani nationals to the Mumbai assault does not include any clear evidence to that effect.

The standoff has chilled relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors and raised speculation there could be another armed confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since gaining independence in 1947 following the end of the British raj, majority Hindu India and predominately Muslim Pakistan have fought each other three times.

Despite generals on both sides of the border expressing resolve to defend their countries at any cost, politicians and analysts here and in Pakistan have stressed there is little likelihood of war.


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