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India: Islamic Militant Infiltration into Kashmir has Lessened - 2002-06-13


India's junior foreign minister said infiltration of Islamic militants from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir has declined. India said it is prepared to take more steps to ease tension.

Pakistan into Indian Kashmir has declined. India said it is prepared to take more steps to ease tension.

Defense officials have said about 15 Indian warships deployed close to Pakistani waters have returned to their home base in Bombay.

The warship pull back was one of the conciliatory gestures announced by India earlier this week. New Delhi also ended a ban on its airspace to Pakistani civilian flights. India's junior foreign minister said infiltration of Islamic militants from

Officials said the steps were taken in response to an assurance that Islamabad would halt the infiltration of Islamic militants from Pakistani territory into Indian Kashmir.

Junior Foreign minister Omar Abdullah said in the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, that he has been receiving reports of a decline in what India calls cross-border infiltration.

"Reports of reduction in infiltration I have heard of, I have heard from my political workers, I have heard from our ministers who live in the border areas, and in areas along the line of control. India's response in allowing Pakistan overflight facilities again, and considering reintroduction of our high commissioner to Islamabad was in response to one - what Pakistan has promised, but two - to certain tangible steps on the ground vis-a-vis levels of infiltration," he said.

Officials have said New Delhi plans to proceed with the appointment of the new ambassador to Pakistan, if Islamabad continues to prevent incursions by Muslim guerrillas across the line of control that divides Kashmir.

New Delhi said it is willing to take more steps to de-escalate tensions if Islamabad takes firm measures to permanently end the infiltration of militants. Mr. Abdullah says this must include dismantling of training camps for militants, and cutting off their finances.

Islamabad has said all infiltration has stopped, and denies actively supporting Muslim militants.

Pakistan has called the Indian moves a step in the right direction, but says it sees no real reduction in tensions as long as Indian troops remain massed on the border.

Indian officials have indicated there is no move yet to pull back ground troops from the troubled Kashmir region. The huge mobilization of troops by both countries has led to fears of a military confrontation, but the war rhetoric has eased in recent days, following western diplomatic efforts.

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