The United States is appealing for restraint by India and Pakistan, which have exchanged gunfire and built up forces along their border in a crisis sparked by the terror attack on the Indian parliament two weeks ago.

The confrontation between India and Pakistan is of mounting concern to the Bush administration, as reflected in a series of telephone appeals to leaders of both countries by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Spokesman Philip Reeker said Mr. Powell's message is that a resort to full-scale conflict in South Asia will achieve nothing: "We believe it's critically important that there be a lessening of tensions between India and Pakistan. And we've been encouraging such a development and we'll continue to encourage that. Any conflict between the two countries can have no good result for either country. As we've said many times before, they need to resolve their differences through dialogue," he said.

Mr. Reeker said the secretary had spoken twice during the day (Wednesday) with both Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff and Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh. Mr. Powell also issued a statement officially adding to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist groups the two Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups blamed by India for the December 13 parliament attack.