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US Urges Pakistan to Move Against Extermists Blamed for India Attack - 2001-12-22

The United States is urging the Pakistani government to move against the two Pakistan-based extremist groups blamed for last week's terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. It is also appealing to the two South Asian powers to avoid further escalation of tensions in the aftermath of the incident.

The State Department says it has seen nothing to support Indian claims of official Pakistani involvement in the December 13 attack on the New Delhi parliament.

But spokesman Richard Boucher says U.S. officials have linked the two Pakistan-based factions implicated by India to acts of terror, and said the Bush administration "looks forward" to action against them by Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff. "We know these groups have bases in Pakistan," he said. "We know how they operate. President Musharraf has made clear his commitment to address extremism within Pakistan. He's begun to take steps to address extremism in Pakistan. He's proved to be a capable and reliable partner in the fight against terrorism, and we're confident that he'll continue to take steps that fight against terrorism, and in that context we've urged Pakistan to take action against these groups."

Mr. Boucher said the State Department's annual report on global terrorism cites both of the Pakistan-based groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed as having committed acts of terror, and he noted that an executive order by President Bush Thursday would block any U.S. assets of Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The December 13 attack and its aftermath have complicated administration efforts to hold together an international coalition against terrorism that includes both India and Pakistan, and U.S. diplomats have been working hard to head off a deeper crisis between the South Asian powers.

Officials here said Secretary of State Colin Powell Friday had second telephone conversation with Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar in as many days, and had also spoken to President Musharaff and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh in a 48-hour span.

Spokesman Boucher said India's re-call of its Pakistan ambassador and severing of rail and bus links with its neighbor were internal matters, while declining comment on Pakistani charges of Indian troop movements along the border.

But he said the United States was pressing the two South Asian powers to avoid further escalation of tensions and to fight terrorism, not each other.