ALMATY, June 4: Russian President Vladimir Putin told India’s Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Tuesday that President Pervez Musharraf had offered serious positive signals to end the military standoff in the subcontinent.

“I have just finished my meeting with the President of Pakistan,” Putin told Vajpayee at the start of a meeting on the sidelines of CICA summit in Kazakhstan.

“I must say that he has given a series of, in my view, serious positive signals, and I will have the pleasure in our meeting coming up to tell you about this,” Putin said.

“We, like the whole world community, are extremely concerned at the course of relations between India and Pakistan,” Putin told Vajpayee.

During his meeting with President Pervez Musharraf the Russian president said: “Our colleagues at the Russia-EU and Russia-NATO summits all express their concern (about the Pakistan-Indian confrontation) and would like me to relay these worries to you.”

“It is imperative to analyze what can be done, so that this conflict is not just defused, but the two sides move away from future confrontation,” said Putin.

Later, talking to reporters the Russian president said that both Musharraf and Vajpayee told him that they intend to resolve their border conflict through peaceful means.

“There is a desire for direct contact for both of them,” said Putin after meeting President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“The most important thing is that both of them have decided to resolve the India-Pakistani relationship in a peaceful manner.”

MUSHARRAF: President Pervez Musharraf accused India on Tuesday of “continuously threatening” to attack Pakistan while refusing to enter into talks.

“India is continuously threatening Pakistan with an attack and refusing dialogue with Pakistan,” Musharraf told reporters following the CICA summit here.

Musharraf said that Putin had invited him to Moscow, and had also invited Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, but it was not clear if the two leaders were invited at the same time.

“I will be going but I cannot speak for Vajpayee.”

He said the regional summit here had been successful in making its declaration against terrorism.

“But I think the world has got disappointed because of the denial of a meeting by Prime Minister Vajpayee with myself,” said Musharraf, who was due to leave the Kazakh economic capital later Tuesday.

“Pakistan appreciates the world concern towards the tensions between India and Pakistan,” he added.

President Pervez Musharraf said that the possession of nuclear weapons implied they would be used in some situations.

Answering questions on whether he would rule out the first use of nuclear weapons, President Musharraf said that “the possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies that they will be used under some circumstances.”

The president’s comments come amid fears that an armed conflict between India and Pakistan could spiral into a nuclear exchange.

Nevertheless, Gen Musharraf dismissed reports that his country had ever deployed its nuclear arsenal and said such a move would be irresponsible.

“Never in the history of Pakistan has the nuclear arsenal

ever been deployed. How can anyone be so irresponsible as to deploy nuclear weapons?” he asked.

President Musharraf said he backed a deeper policy of the de-nuclearization of South Asia.

“We are for de-nuclearising South Asia altogether, we are for signing a no-war pact, we are for the reduction of forces,” he told reporters.—Agencies