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India Begins Kashmir Pullback

India begins withdrawing some of its troops from Kashmir -- an important step toward easing long-standing tensions with rival Pakistan over the restive Himalayan region.  

Lieutenant General Nirbhay Sharma, the military commander of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, said he was following orders to cut troop levels in Jammu-Kashmir because of a decline in separatist violence and cross-border incursions by rebels.


Kashmir is a flashpoint for hostilities between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.


They have fought two wars over the region, which is divided between them but claimed by both in its entirety.


Sharma did not disclose either the number of soldiers or the location from which they will be pulled back.


Pakistan has welcomed India's move, saying it was "a good beginning." A spokesman for Pakistan's foreign ministry says the confidence-building measure would further facilitate dialogue.


Last week, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said his government would reduce the presence of Indian security forces in Kashmir, but he did not provide specific figures.


News reports said nearly 40,000 of India's half million troops in Kashmir would be redeployed.


(CRI.com November 17, 2004)

Pakistan PM to Discuss Kashmir Issue with India
India to Cut Troops in Kashmir
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