U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is meeting with Indian leaders in New Delhi - his first stop on a mission to South Asia to help avoid war between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region. Mr. Rumsfeld is hoping to build on positive developments between both sides, in recent days.
A U.S. defense official says one idea brought up during talks between Secretary Rumsfeld and India's national security advisor was dispatching joint India-Pakistani patrols, or sensors, along the line of control in disputed Kashmir - possibly with some yet-to-be-defined American involvement. After meeting with Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes, Secretary Rumsfeld offered no details, saying only that the United States is willing to work with both sides, to defuse tensions.
"We feel there are steps being taken which are constructive," he said. "And, I must say the leadership here in India has demonstrated their concern and their interest in seeing that things are resolved in an appropriate way."
New Delhi blamed Pakistani-based militants for an attack on the Indian parliament in December and for a spate of recent cross border attacks across the "line of control" in Kashmir.
A U.S. official tells reporters India has now agreed to send its ambassador back to Islamabad. It would be the latest sign that the tensions between both countries are no longer escalating.
On the eve of Mr. Rumsfeld's visit here, India announced it was ordering its warships to end patrols in the Arabian Sea and that it would allow flights by commercial Pakistani airliners over its territory.
Even though Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pledged to take steps to end those attacks, nearly a million Indian and Pakistani troops remain faced off along the Kashmir line of control. U.S. officials say the situation on the ground remains virtually unchanged, with sporadic shelling continuing.
After meeting with Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Secretary Rumsfeld goes to neighboring Pakistan for talks Thursday with President Pervez Musharraf.