Rice arrives in Islamabad to ease India-Pakistan tensions

December 4th, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Dec 4 (DPA) US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday arrived in Islamabad to defuse escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over last week’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai.During her five-hour stay in the Pakistani capital, Rice was scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

She was expected to mount pressure on the Pakistani leadership to fully cooperate with New Delhi in investigating the Mumbai carnage and bring those behind it to justice.

Rice arrived from New Delhi where she was told by the Indian government that it was “determined to act decisively to protect the territorial integrity of India and the right of our citizens to a peaceful life with all means at our disposal.”

New Delhi has pressed Islamabad to act against Lashkar-e-Toiba, a Pakistan-based militant group which Indian security agencies believe was behind the Mumbai attacks that left more than 170 people dead and over 300 injured.

Pakistan has offered joint investigations into the incident but doubts that the attackers came from its soil.

Rice urged Islamabad “to act transparently, fully and urgently,” during a joint press conference with her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi.

“Americans understand the feelings and strong demands in India to capture the attackers,” she added.

Rising tension between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours has raised concerns in Washington.

Islamabad warned on the weekend that it would withdraw its more than 100,000 troops fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda militants on its western border in the event of a build-up of Indian troops along its eastern frontier.

This would jeopardize the US-led international fight against terrorism in Afghanistan, where many of the attacks are carried out by Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants based in Pakistan’s tribal region.

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