- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

NEW DELHI (Reuters) — India has put off peace talks scheduled for this week with Pakistan after suspicion arose that Islamist militants based in that country were to blame for the Bombay train bombings, a top Indian Foreign Ministry official said yesterday.

The decision came days after a series of bomb blasts in commuter trains in the country’s financial and entertainment center killed about 180 people and wounded hundreds.

Although there has been no breakthrough in investigations into one of India’s worst militant attacks, officials suspect that the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Pakistani military spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, were behind the bombings.

“We told them the environment is not conducive,” the ministry official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

He was referring to talks due to be held in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday.

The meeting between the two countries’ chief Foreign Ministry officials was to have reviewed progress in the peace process, begun in early 2004 after the nuclear-powered rivals went to the brink of a fourth war in 2002.

The decision to postpone the talks does not mean that the peace process has been called off, the official said.

“We are still committed to making peace with them. But they have to show that they can keep their promises to end terrorism before we can move forward,” he said.

Islamabad pledged in 2004 that it would not allow its territory to be used by anti-Indian militants fighting against New Delhi’s rule in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said New Delhi has formally conveyed the decision to put off this week’s talks but declined to comment on it.

Pakistan has denied any connection with the Bombay bombings and said Indian charges against its military spy agency were nothing but propaganda or speculation unless New Delhi could show evidence.

President Pervez Musharraf has offered Islamabad’s full cooperation with any Indian investigation, wherever it should lead.

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