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WASHINGTON, June 14. Two leading American newspapers reported on Friday that India has given assurances to the United States that New Delhi will not automatically respond to a terrorist attack inside its borders by blaming Pakistan or striking back at Pakistan.

New Delhi is also said to have agreed that India and the United States will make a “joint assessment” of whether cross-border infiltration has stopped.

The reported Indian assurances are contained in dispatches in The New York Times and The Washington Post relating to the just concluded visit to the region of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was apparently able to win such assurances from India.

The Post quoted an Indian official as saying there is general recognition that although General Pervez Musharraf has “pledged to cut off the flow of militants moving from Pakistan’s portion of the divided region (Kashmir) into India’s, he does not exercise total control over them”.

As a consequence, the official said, India would not automatically respond to a terrorist attack inside its borders by striking at targets in Pakistan.

“If we see Pakistan is making sincere attempts at implementing what it has committed, it that is happening, then if there is a violent incident in Jammu and Kashmir, we won’t have a knee-jerk reaction to that,” the official added.

In a report from Manama, Bahrain, where Secretary Rumsfeld made a refuelling stop on his way home from Islamabad, The New York Times said that, according to a Pakistani official, a process had been started to reduce the possibility of full-scale war. One positive step, the official said, was that India had passed along an assurance it would not respond militarily to a terrorist attack unless it confirmed that Pakistan was to blame. “Such an assurance would reduce the likelihood that militants could provoke a war neither side wants.”

The Post report indicates that the proposal for a joint Indo-US assessment of cross-border incursions was proposed by Mr Rumsfeld in talks in New Delhi, and India agreed with the proposal.

An Indian official suggested that US forces in Pakistan could help verify the closing of what India says are 75 training camps for militants on the Pakistan side of the border.

It has previously been stated that the US is willing to provide sophisticated sensory equipment to detect any infiltrations across the Line of Control, but India has been ambiguous about another American suggestion —- US-British helicopter patrolling of the LoC.

Meanwhile, referring to the challenges faced by Gen Musharraf in curbing militancy, a Post columnist said on Friday the Pakistani leader deserved praise for de-escalating the crisis with India.

The columnist, David Ignatius, said: “Musharraf, in particular, deserves credit. For my money, he is the most courageous and visionary leader on the world scene today. What Musharraf decided was that, in the end, India and Pakistan were fighting a common enemy in the remnants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban that had infiltrated Kashmir.”