NEW DELHI, India – India will remove some troops from its border with Pakistan, its defense minister said Wednesday, in a step that appears designed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals.
The move affect troops along the shared 1,800-mile border, except the volatile cease-fire line that divides the Himalayan province of Jammu-Kashmir between the countries, Defense Minister George Fernandes said after a meeting of senior Cabinet ministers and defense officials.
"There will be no lowering of vigil in Jammu and Kashmir," Fernandes told reporters after the 90-minute meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Troops will "redeploy from positions on the international border with Pakistan, without impairing their capacity to respond decisively to any emergency," Fernandes said.
The neighbors have fought two wars of divided Kashmir, which both nations claim in its entirety, and they came close to another war in May.
India and Pakistan have had some 1 million troops posted along their border most of the year. The deployment came after an attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi that India blamed on Pakistan-based Islamic groups and Pakistan's spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence.
Pakistan and the rebel groups rejected India's claims.
In Islamabad, both the Pakistani army and Foreign Ministry refused to comment on India's decision, saying they wanted to study the move. A spokesman for Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf could not immediately be reached for comment.
Fernandes said that, "There is no question of a dialogue with Pakistan as long as Pakistani terrorism continues."