3 Aug 2008

India says Pakistan to probe Kabul embassy bombing

6:49 am on 3 August 2008

Pakistan has offered to investigate last month's bomb attack on India's embassy in Kabul, according to India's top foreign ministry official.

The bombing on 7 July killed 58 people including an Indian defence attache.

The Kabul bombing, along with a ceasefire breach, and media speculation about Pakistani links to a series of bombings on Indian cities last month have jeopardised a four-year-old peace initiative between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh that he would also discuss the bombing with the Afghanistan president on Sunday.

"Prime Minister Gilani said that he would conduct an independent investigation," said Foreign Secretary, Shiv Shankar Menon.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of a South Asian summit on Saturday in a tense atmosphere after India said on Friday recent events had brought their peace process to its lowest ebb since its launch in 2004.

India blames Pakistan for a breach of a 2003 ceasefire on its de facto border in Kashmir, the Himalayan region at the core of their disputes, and accuses its military spy agency of involvement in the Kabul attack, a charge Pakistan denies.

There have been three exchanges of border fire this month, the most serious breach since the ceasefire began in 2003.

India also says Islamabad is not doing enough to curb Pakistan-based anti-Indian groups "inciting terror" in India, putting their peace process "under stress".

The two sides began a peace initiative four years ago, after coming close to a fourth war in 2002, but the process has faltered because of political turmoil in Pakistan and, more recently, after the bombings in Kabul and two Indian cities last month in which nearly 50 people were killed.