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Pakistani Military Chief Urges Reduction of Tensions With India


Pakistan's military chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said India and Pakistan should reduce the tensions that have flared after the Mumbai terrorist attacks and resume a peace dialogue.

A Pakistani military statement said the general told a top Chinese diplomat there is a need to "de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security."

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei was visiting Pakistan as part of an international drive to defuse tensions. He is expected to hold talks with Indian officials as well.

Kayani has previously kept relatively quiet about the raised tensions with India in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

On Friday, Pakistan began moving thousands of troops toward the Indian border and away from the Afghan frontier.

Pakistani security officials said senior Indian and Pakistani military leaders had an unscheduled conversation over their hotline in the last few days. No other details of the discussion were available.

Tensions between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks have been the highest seen in years. India said it has "paused" the peace process between the two countries.

India said the gunmen who attacked Mumbai in November, killing more than 170 people, were Pakistanis trained and equipped by a Pakistan-based militant group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan said India has not provided evidence of the attackers' nationalities.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.