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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Putin persists with Kashmir diplomacy
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Kazakhstan
Putin (l): Invited both leaders to Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the leaders of nuclear powers Pakistan and India to act responsibly in order to pull their countries back from the brink of war.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee arrives in Almaty
Vajpayee says Musharraf must halt "cross-border terrorism"

The Russian leader said that in terms of severity the dispute over Kashmir could be likened to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis between the former Soviet Union and the United States.

That situation was only resolved through restraint by the leadership on both sides, said Mr Putin, who was speaking at an Asian regional security conference in Kazakhstan.

Earlier, in an attempt to defuse the crisis, Mr Putin had separate meetings with the two leaders after failing to persuade them to meet face-to-face.

The two sides have massed more than one million troops along their borders.

He has also invited them both to Moscow - an invitation accepted by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, although it is not immediately clear whether Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has also agreed to go.

Both Russia and China have attempted to mediate between the two countries in an effort to alleviate tension.

Global concern

Both sides have continued their angry exchange of words over the Kashmir crisis, blaming each other for the military confrontation that continues to escalate in the troubled region.
Indian soldier at an army camp near the Pakistan border
Rising tension:

1 October 2001:
38 killed in attack on the Kashmir assembly in Srinagar
13 December 2001:
14 killed in attack on the Indian parliament building in Delhi
14 May 2002:
More than 30 killed in attack on an Indian army camp in Kashmir
21 May 2002:
Moderate Kashmiri politician Abdul Ghani Lone shot dead

"India is continually threatening Pakistan for an attack and also refusing dialogue," General Musharraf declared after his meeting with Mr Putin, and then said his country was aware of "world concern" that its differences with Delhi had not been resolved.

Mr Vajpayee has in turn accused Pakistan of breaking its promises to prevent cross-border infiltration by militants, although he said he was prepared to talk to Islamabad if demands were met.

"On 12 January the president of Pakistan promised no organisation would be allowed to indulge in terrorism in the name of Kashmir," he said.

"We have seen in the following months that cross-border infiltration has increased, violence in Kashmir has continued unabated and terrorist camps continue to exist across our border," he added.

Tensions have been rising since December's raid on the Indian parliament that Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

On Tuesday, the 16 nations attending the summit adopted the Almaty Act, which condemns terrorism and commits its signatories to not support separatist movements.

Violence continues

The Indian and Pakistani leaders' hardline remarks contrasted with reports in India's press which responded with optimism to an apparent softening of the tone of comments from Indian officials in the last few days.

Pakistanis burn an effigy of the Indian premier
Anti-Indian rallies took place in Pakistan on Monday

On Tuesday, many newspapers were hailing what could be the start of the diplomatic breakthrough.

"India talks down war fever", said a headline in the Times of India - its editorial reflecting a general feeling that the worst may now be over.

However, violence continued across the Line of control, with exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops killing at least two people and injuring ten others in the past 24 hours or so.

Police in Indian-administered Kashmir said one person had died in the Punch district when the area was shelled by Pakistani forces.

Officials in Pakistan-administered territory said a man was killed as Indian troops targeted his village in Bargh district with mortar, artillery and machine-gun fire.

As the stand-off continues, foreign nationals and non-essential diplomatic staff from many countries continue to leave.

The authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir also said they would carry out a black-out exercise on Tuesday to prepare people for possible aerial attack from Pakistan.

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"This summit may have pushed them even further apart"
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
"Golden peace has remained hostage"
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
"Terrorist camps operate unhindered across our borders"
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See also:

04 Jun 02 | Media reports
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
03 Jun 02 | South Asia
02 Jun 02 | UK Politics
02 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
01 Jun 02 | South Asia
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