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US: India, Pakistan Appear to be Pulling Back from Confrontation


The Bush administration is welcoming Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's crackdown on the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups blamed by India for the December 13 terrorist attack on the Indian parliament.

President Bush had urged Mr. Musharraf in a telephone talk on Saturday to move against anti-Indian extremists, and in comments in Texas he said the fact the Pakistani leader was, as he put it "cracking down hard" on the groups is "a good sign."

Pakistan said Monday it had detained Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, a founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba group, after taking leaders of the other faction implicated by India Jaish-e-Mohammad into custody late last week.

Briefing reporters here, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker noted India's welcome of the arrests, and said the two powers appear to be pulling back from confrontation. "We are pleased that both countries continue to act responsibly in order to avoid a conflict," he said. "As we've said so many times, they need to resolve their differences through dialogue."

Mr. Reeker said Secretary of State Colin Powell continued his telephone diplomacy on the crisis Monday with calls to, among others, President Musharraf and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.