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U.S. Official Says India-Pakistan Tensions Easing

Armitage told reporters in New Delhi Friday after meeting with Indian President Atal Behari Vajpayee, ”Tensions are a little bit down.”

He told Indian leaders that Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf was ready to do all he could to avert war, including curbing attacks by Islamic militants on the Indian-controlled section of the disputed Kashmir region.

“President Musharraf clearly told me he is intent on doing everything he can to avoid a war consistent with the honor and dignity of Pakistan,” Armitage told reporters.

Armitage met with Musharraf in Islamabad on Thursday before heading to India.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told reporters Musharraf’s pledge is “something we hope to see translated into action. We need to check whether this is a credible assurance.”

Ending the militant raids in Kashmir has been one of India’s key demands before it would agree to peace talks with Pakistan.

Both Musharraf and Vajpayee attended an Asian summit in Kazakhstan earlier this week, but attempts to broker peace talks between the two men were unsuccessful.

The two countries have been locked in a tense standoff with 1 million troops deployed along the border and in both the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled sections of Kashmir. Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 have been waged over the flashpoint region.

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