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Indian PM: No Meaningful Dialogue With Pakistan if Terrorist Acts Continue - 2003-08-29

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee says meaningful peace talks with neighboring Pakistan are impossible if terrorist activities in India continue. His comments came after a week of deadly attacks in Kashmir and Bombay, attacks India blames on Islamic militants.

Speaking to reporters in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, Mr. Vajpayee on Friday questioned whether a serious dialogue with Pakistan will take place.

"We would like to have a meaningful talk with Pakistan," he said. "But if terrorist activities continue, that will not be possible."

Mr. Vajpayee's comments come at the end of a week of deadly terrorist attacks.

There is almost daily violence in Kashmir, where India faces a separatist Muslim insurgency that India charges is backed by Pakistan. A major clash between militants and police coincided with the Prime Minister's visit to the area this week.

Earlier in the week, two car bombs exploded in India's commercial capital, Bombay, leaving at least 50 people dead and another 150 injured. The authorities blame Islamic militants and point the finger at a banned Indian student organization, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba separatist group. India has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for supporting violence carried out by Islamic militants. Pakistan denies the charge.

Kashmir, which both India and Pakistan claim, is the main point of contention between the two neighbors. They have fought two wars over the disputed area and almost went to war again last year.

Relations have begun to improve in recent months, with re-establishment of full diplomatic relations and renewed cross-border bus service. Pakistani officials have repeatedly called for the start of serious talks over Kashmir and other issues.

Mr. Vajpayee said he would like to have talks and to increase bilateral trade. But his Friday comments indicated that the time for that has not yet arrived.