United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan Wednesday urged the leaders of India and Pakistan to refrain from actions or statements that could escalate tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
In letters to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Annan implored the two leaders to make every effort "to foster a calmer atmosphere so that differences - no matter how great - could be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy," the UN said in a statement.
"The Secretary-General also told the leaders of India and Pakistan that the international community as a whole had great interest in improved and stable relations between their two countries," the statement said.
Troops have been gathering on both sides of the border since India accused Pakistan military intelligence of masterminding the December 13 attack on its parliament which killed 14 people, including the five attackers.
Sporadic fighting has also been reported.
India has already recalled its ambassador from Islamabad and announced the suspension of cross-border bus and rail links from January 1.
Pakistan has denied any involvement in the parliament attack and a senior government official in Islamabad said the United States was working hard to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since partition in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
(China Daily December 27, 2001)