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Pakistan to probe attack on India's Kabul mission.

Byline: Md. Rasooldeen

COLOMBO: Pakistan will hold an inquiry into the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told newsmen yesterday after talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, on the sidelines of a summit of South Asian leaders that began earlier.

"It is a tragic event and I have assured the Indian prime minister that I would hold an independent inquiry into the incident," Gilani said, adding that he would meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai today and would seek his assistance in conducting the probe.

The July 7 suicide attack on the Indian mission killed 54 people, including an Indian defense attachA. India and Afghanistan have accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of masterminding the bombing.

Gilani said Kabul could furnish whatever evidence available to help the investigation. He also said India and Pakistan should consider a border cease-fire as the most important confidence-building measure between the countries. "All major political parties in Pakistan want the cease-fire to continue and it is my desire too," Gilani said. His comments followed recent exchanges of fire between the troops of the two countries. The clashes erupted after serial blasts in two Indian cities killed scores of people and the media in India blamed Pakistan for the attacks. Pakistan has denied involvement.

Earlier, leaders attending the 15th South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit called terrorism the biggest threat to progress in the region and resolved to combat it.

Host Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse urged his colleagues to redouble their efforts for collective action to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. He stressed the need to strengthen regional legal mechanism and intensify intelligence sharing to combat terrorism.

In his speech, Manmohan Singh said: "Terrorism is the single biggest threat to our stability. We cannot afford to lose the battle against the ideologies of hatred, fanaticism and against all those who seek to destroy our social fabric."

Afghan President Karzai attacked Pakistan. Terrorism is spreading "like wild fire" in South Asia, particularly in Pakistan, and receiving institutional support there, he said.

"In Pakistan, terrorism and its sanctuaries are gaining a deeper grip as demonstrated by the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto," Karzai said. "We need collective action to wipe out terrorism in the region," added Karzai, whose government is battling an insurgency and whose relations with Pakistan have been going steadily downhill in the past few months.

Singh said India granted zero duty access to its markets to the least developed countries from Jan. 1, one year ahead of the target and also pruned its sensitive list for these countries.

"India's FTA with Sri Lanka is working satisfactorily bringing benefits to both our economies," he said.

- With input from agencies

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Aug 3, 2008
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