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Indian Official: Militant Infiltration From Pakistan into Indian Kashmir Increasing


India's new foreign minister has said infiltration of Muslim militants from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir is on the rise, following a brief lull. Pakistan rejects the charge. Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said promises conveyed to India that Pakistan would end infiltration by Muslim militants appear not to have been fulfilled.

Mr. Sinha spoke to reporters as he took charge of the Foreign Ministry. He said there had been some evidence of reduction in militant incursions. But he said several incidents in recent days indicate that the situation is returning to conditions that prevailed before Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pledged to end infiltration.

In the past week, Indian army officials in Kashmir have reported at least three incidents in which Muslim rebels allegedly tried to infiltrate under the cover of Pakistani shelling.

Mr. Sinha said India is closely monitoring the situation along the line of control that divides Kashmir between the two countries. He said India needs to be "very careful in our dealings" with President Musharraf.

"Quite clearly we are looking at not only the assurance from Pakistan that infiltration from across the border of terrorists will be permanently stopped, but we are looking for visible and credible signs of that action. We have already said that our responses will depend on the action on the part of Pakistan," Mr. Sinha said.

Responding to the comments, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said his government rejects the allegation. He said there are no incursions across the line of control that divides Pakistani and Indian forces in Kashmir.

Tensions between India and Pakistan eased last month after Mr. Musharraf told U.S. officials Muslim militants would be stopped from entering Indian Kashmir. But India said it will keep its troops massed on the border until it is convinced infiltration has halted permanently.

Meanwhile, British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon arrived in New Delhi for two-day visit. He is scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Sinha. Tensions between the South Asian countries are expected to top the agenda.

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