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India Rules Out Talks With Pakistan

India again has ruled out holding talks with Pakistan in the near future. Despite an effort to ease tensions by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, there appears to be no breakthrough in the standoff between India and Pakistan.

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh said India will not hold a dialogue with Pakistan until that country changes its attitude toward, what New Delhi calls, cross border terrorism.

Mr. Singh accused Pakistan of adopting double standards in addressing the issue of terrorism - saying it applies one standard to international terrorism, and another to activities of Muslim militant groups waging a separatist insurgency in Kashmir. He said Islamabad does not appear willing to, in his words, end its support of terrorism.

The foreign minister's comments followed a three-day visit to New Delhi by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. After meeting Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Sunday, Mr. Blair said New Delhi would be willing to open talks with Pakistan if it renounces terrorism in all its forms. "There must be a complete rejection of the types of terrorist acts carried out on the 1st of October and 13th of December," he said. "There is no 'half-way house' for that."

Foreign Minister Singh indicated New Delhi is not softening its position and said it would not enter into talks with Pakistan unless it sees a firmer crackdown on Islamic militants.

India accuses Islamabad of supporting and funding Kashmiri militant groups. Pakistan calls them Kashmiri freedom fighters.

Indian officials say Pakistan's action in detaining scores of Muslim militants, and arresting the leaders of two Islamic groups accused of organizing last month's attack on the Indian parliament are not enough.

The militants are also blamed for the October attack on the legislature in Indian Kashmir.

Mr. Blair is now visiting Pakistan, where he is expected to press President Pervez Musharraf to denounce terrorism in South Asia and do more to curb the militants operating from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, renewed cross border shelling was reported on the Kashmiri frontier.

Indian and Pakistani forces have been on high alert for nearly three weeks, tens of thousands of troops are positioned along their borders. Several people have been killed by recent exchanges of gun and mortar fire between soldiers on the two sides.