WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- The White House indicated Tuesday that it would help India fight terrorism in Kashmir, a region disputed between India and Pakistan since 1947.
The assurance follows a weekend attack in which 24 people died in Shoppian, a town in Kashmir.
"The attack underscores the importance of the war on terror and strengthens our resolve to work with friends and allies to fight terrorism at home and abroad," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Hundreds of people have died in Kashmir during the past two years in attacks that India blames on Pakistan-based Kashmiri extremists. Pakistan denies the charge.
The Kashmir dispute has caused two wars between South Asia's two nuclear-armed neighbors and last year Washington had to intervene to prevent another war.
"President George W. Bush strongly condemns the cowardly attack ... in Kashmir on March 23," the White House said.
Extending condolences to the injured and the families of the victims, Fleischer said violence would not resolve the Kashmir dispute.
In a separate statement, the State Department also condemned the attack in Shoppian as "horrific and deeply disturbing," and said that it has "saddened the United States."
"The cowardly attack appears aimed at disrupting the bold efforts of the Kashmir state government led by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed to restore peace and religious harmony to the troubled state," the statement said.
Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned the Indian foreign minister on Monday "to express U.S. condemnation of this brutal attack and to extend condolences to the wounded and to the families of the victims," the State Department said.
The department warned that violence will not solve Kashmir's problems, adding that such attacks are intended to disrupt the efforts of the state government to "reduce tensions and promote reconciliation.
"Dialogue remains a critical element in the normalization of relations between India and Pakistan," the statement said.