Pakistan calls for calm with India
AFP - 1 hour 46 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - - Pakistan on Monday called for an easing of tensions with India, one month after ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours were sent into a tailspin in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the country's powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani both told visiting Chinese vice foreign minister He Yafei that Islamabad wanted calm.
Gilani "stated that Pakistan desired de-escalation of tensions with India and hoped that these sentiments would be reciprocated by the Indian leadership, as well," a statement from his office quoted him as saying.
Earlier, Kayani "highlighted the need to de-escalate and avoid conflict in the interest of peace and security" in talks with the Chinese minister in the garrison town of Rawalpindi near the capital, the military said in a statement.
Beijing had dispatched its envoy to Pakistan on Sunday as part of an international effort to defuse tensions between the South Asian rivals.
Relations between India and Pakistan had deteriorated in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi has blamed on Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
A total of 172 people were killed, including nine gunmen.
Pakistani officials said last week that the military had redeployed a "limited" number of troops from tribal areas near Afghanistan, where they are fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants, to the eastern border with India.
The move prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to summon his military chiefs for a strategy session, and New Delhi advised its nationals not to travel to Pakistan.
An Indian army spokesman told AFP that New Delhi had not shifted any troops on its side of the already heavily militarised common border.
Senior military officials from the two countries -- the directors general of military operations -- had an unscheduled weekend conversation over the hotline linking the two states, in another apparent bid to soothe frayed nerves.
"The DGMOs talked to each other on the hotline," a Pakistani military official told AFP. He declined to reveal details of the discussion.
The United States and Russia have led international calls for calm, while China and Iran have also played a role. Leaders in both Islamabad and New Delhi have repeatedly said they do not want war but would act if provoked.
China, one of Pakistan's closest allies, sent He to Islamabad for talks with Gilani, Kayani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He was also to meet with President Asif Ali Zardari, the foreign ministry said here.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.
They came to the brink of a fourth war after an attack on the Indian parliament in late 2001 -- a strike New Delhi also blamed on LeT.
Both sides deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to the border but they eventually pulled back following intense international mediation.
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