- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

KATMANDU, Nepal India's prime minister yesterday reciprocated a goodwill gesture from the president of rival Pakistan, stepping forward to shake his adversary's hand and end an icy two-day summit of South Asian leaders on a warm note.
However, tensions remained high in the disputed region of Kashmir, where the Indian military said it shot down a small, unmanned Pakistani spy plane yesterday. Pakistan claimed the aircraft was India's own.
Despite the two handshakes and some informal interaction, the Indian and Pakistani leaders left the conference in Nepal without holding talks to improve relations, as international leaders had hoped.
Later, in New Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said Pakistan needed to condemn all types of terrorism to pave the way for negotiations.
"There must be a complete rejection of the types of terrorist actions carried out on the first of October and the 13th of December," Mr. Blair said, referring to attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature and the Indian Parliament, both blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
"There is no halfway house for that," said Mr. Blair, who plans to meet today with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Gen. Musharraf said the war-alert status of the two armies along the 1,100-mile India-Pakistan border had not heightened during the summit but did not appear to have eased, either. "We must remove the dangerous standoff between India and Pakistan," he said.
An Indian army official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a Pakistani unmanned aircraft, equipped to take aerial photographs, was flying nearly 2.5 miles inside Indian territory along the border when troops shot it down.
Pakistani military officials said no Pakistani spy plane had been shot down and suggested the aircraft might have been a child's toy. Later, Pakistan's state-run news agency reported that "an aerial vehicle of India crashed in the Jammu sector and the military officials of India are indulging in baseless propaganda to hide this loss."
The claims about the shoot-down came hours after the end of the seven-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit.
Gen. Musharraf said he and Mr. Vajpayee had chatted informally during the summit but had no one-on-one meeting.
Mr. Vajpayee confirmed he spoke with Gen. Musharraf, telling reporters it was "a courtesy call. There was no significant discussion."
Meeting for the first time since the attack on the Indian Parliament, Mr. Vajpayee and Gen. Musharraf who last held talks at a July summit that ended in acrimony over Kashmir performed a delicate dance for the cameras in Katmandu.
Gen. Musharraf made a presentation of shaking Mr. Vajpayee's hand Saturday after calling for India and Pakistan to embark on "a journey of peace, harmony and progress" together.
Yesterday, Mr. Vajpayee initiated the handshake, which Gen. Musharraf followed with a salute.
Gen. Musharraf also offered a prayer of peace yesterday. "If there is no durable peace, there will be little progress," he said in closing remarks.

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