India: No Jammu troop removal

May 10, 2006 at 6:54 AM
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JAMMU, India, May 9 (UPI) -- India has ruled out the removal of more troops from the disputed province of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of an increase in terrorist activity.

Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the government has no intention of pulling out troops from the province which recently saw the slaughter of 32 Hindus by Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Mukherjee, accompanied by Ghulam Nabi Azad, the province's chief minister, and military commanders, met with the victims of terror attacks in the region The Hindu newspaper said Wednesday, and held a meeting on the security situation in the state.

"Given the stepped up terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the question of reduction of troops does not arise," the defense minister said adding, "the government is also considering providing sophisticated weapons to village defense committees."

Mukherjee said talks with Pakistan would continue, as "we are committed to carry forward the dialogue process." The issue of troop withdrawal from the Siachin glacier --the world's highest battlefield -- was dependent upon the outcome of the composite dialogue with Pakistan, he added.

There remained approximately 59 terror training camps still active in Pakistan, the minister said. "Pakistan should demolish terror infrastructure and send a strong message to militants that they no longer enjoy the Pakistani establishment's support."

Mukherjee concluded his visit by asking Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to adhere to his commitment to prevent the use of Pakistani soil for cross-border terrorist activities.

"Al-Qaida is a threat to India," Mukherjee said. "It does not matter whether they (militants) are in the neighborhood or in the region."

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