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Bush Urges Pakistan, India to Show Restraint

President Bush says the United States is working actively to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan.

Mr. Bush talked about the escalating tensions between the two countries during a press conference Friday at his Texas ranch.

President Bush urged both calm and restraint. He said Washington is making a big effort to ease tensions. "My government and my administration is working actively to bring some calm to the region, to hopefully convince both sides to stop the escalation of force," the president said.

Mr. Bush singled out Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for praise. He said Pakistan has already arrested 50 extremists. "I am pleased that President Musharraf is responding to Indian requests to round up those who would do harm to others and incarcerated them, which he did," Mr. Bush said.

President Bush says India should take note of the action taken by Pakistan's leader, saying Mr. Musharraf is moving forcefully and actively to bring those who would harm others to justice.

Tensions between the two countries have risen sharply since the December 13 attack on the Indian parliament in which 14 people were killed. India has accused Pakistani intelligence of backing Kashmiri militant groups responsible for the attack. Pakistan has denied any role in the bloody incident.

Recent days have seen a build-up of troops along their common border, and the imposition of sanctions by both New Delhi and Islamabad.

During his end of year session with reporters, Mr. Bush made clear it is a matter of big concern for Washington. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, and both are allies in the war on terrorism. Pakistan has been especially crucial because of its long ties with neighboring Afghanistan.

The president said he has not spoken to the leaders of either country this week. But he noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell has been engaged in active telephone diplomacy. "Colin Powell has spoken to both sides today, urging restraint, urging calm," the president said.

President Bush said his national security team is providing regular updates on the situation during his stay in Texas. Mr. Bush is currently scheduled to return to Washington on January 6.