ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- A top American diplomat said he was assured Thursday that Pakistan's president will do all he can to avoid war with India.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage also said the U.S. military effort against al-Qaida in western Pakistan has not been affected by the Kashmir crisis and resulting tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.
During a one hour and 45 minute meeting, President Pervez Musharraf "made it clear to me he wants to do everything he can to avoid war, and I think that's a very good basis on which to proceed," Armitage said.
"President Musharraf has made it very clear that he is searching for peace, that he won't be the one to initiate war, and I'll be looking for the same type of assurance tomorrow from Delhi," Armitage said.
Washington has expressed concern about how the India-Pakistan tension might affect efforts to capture al-Qaida and Taliban fighters along Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan. Pakistan already has pulled out some troops who have been helping Americans in the effort for possible redeployment to its eastern frontier with India.
"Some elements have moved, but the main activity on the western border of Pakistan seems unaffected in my view," Armitage said.
Armitage, who has a reputation for blunt talk, arrived Thursday morning and quickly went into meetings with Foreign Secretary Inam Ul Haque, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and Musharraf.
A day earlier India made a conciliatory gesture to Pakistan, calling for joint monitoring of the Kashmir frontier -- a proposal that Pakistan played down as old and unlikely to work.
Armitage said he would discuss that proposal with Indian officials when he flies to new Delhi on Friday.
"It doesn't do any good to discuss these things in public," he said.
In phone calls Wednesday to Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, President Bush appealed to both leaders to "choose the path of diplomacy."
Hours before Armitage arrived, artillery fell silent on both sides of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, but heavy mortar and machine-gun fire resumed later Thursday. Pakistan claimed three people were killed and five wounded by Indian shelling in the Punch sector 100 miles south of Muzaffarabad, while India reported one civilian injured.
Indian police said at least eight people were shot dead Thursday in separate incidents on the Indian side of the disputed Himalayan region.
Among the dead was Mohammed Rafiq Lone, a top commander of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul Jehad-e-Islami rebel group.
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