President Bush says the United States is pressing Pakistan for tougher action against those suspected of terrorist attacks against India. The president met at the White House Thursday with India's Home Minister to discuss tensions between the nuclear-power rivals.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush told Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani that the United States expects Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf to do more to fight terrorists in the disputed border region of Kashmir. "The president told Minister Advani that he has urged President Musharaf to take appropriate steps against extremists operating in and from Pakistan," he said. "The president also stressed the importance of solving the Indo-Pakistan differences through diplomatic and political means."
Mr. Fleischer said the President urged both India and Pakistan to remember that the enemy in Kashmir is terrorism, not the two opposing armies massed along the border following last month's suicide attack on the Indian parliament.
The United States is hoping to head-off another war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, especially as Pakistani cooperation has been crucial to the U.S. fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Following a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Home Minister Advani told reporters that he is satisfied the United States is determined to end terrorism everywhere, including Kashmir. "The president conveyed to me that he expected Pakistan and its leader General Musharaf to take all necessary steps in fighting terror," he said. "He had done it in the case of the Taleban. And the president expects him to do it in the case of India also and abandon terror as an instrument of state policy."
Minister Advani says India will judge Pakistan based not on its statements but on actions that follow those statements. Pakistani security forces have arrested several members of groups suspected of involvement in recent attacks. President Musharaf is expected to outline his plan to deal with Islamic militants in a speech later this week.
India blames Pakistan for supporting Kashmiri separatists. Indian defense officials say thousands of troops will conduct large-scale military exercises along the border later this month. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to visit the region next week in hopes of further calming tensions between the long-time rivals.