India plays down Miliband dispute

21 January 2009

London: India says it disagrees with UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband's comments linking Mumbai to the Kashmir dispute - but has played down any diplomatic row. Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the issue was now a 'closed chapter'. Mr Miliband visited the region last week. He said resolving Kashmir would help deny extremists in the region one of their main calls to arms. Delhi believes the Mumbai attacks have little to do with Kashmir's insurgency. It blames Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for carrying out the attacks. Letter denied David Miliband's comments on Kashmir had led to a swift and uncharacteristically sharp response from Delhi, which said India did not need unsolicited advice on the Kashmir issue. When the foreign secretary of the UK visited us he shared his perception about the situation... we do not share it Pranab Mukherjee, Indian foreign minister Miliband faces India media flak Mr Mukherjee now says India's displeasure was shared with Mr Miliband and communicated through diplomatic channels. At the same time he said the matter should be treated as a closed chapter. Separately the Indian prime minister's office denied Indian media reports that Manmohan Singh had written a letter to his British counterpart, Gordon Brown, complaining about Mr Miliband's comments. Downing Street's official spokesman confirmed India did not intend to send a letter of complaint. He said the UK government wanted 'a very good relationship with India and we do have a good relationship with India'. Analysts say there is some concern in India that the incoming administration of President Barack Obama and the UK government may push India on Kashmir as part of a strategy to bring stability to Pakistan. Delhi wants international pressure on Islamabad to crack down on groups it says were behind the violence. So while it may want to put a lid on any controversy generated by Mr Miliband's comments it also wants to make its position absolutely clear.