Pakistan and India talked hopefully about improving relations Sunday as the nuclear-armed rivals appeared to be searching for a path away from confrontation following the Mumbai terror attacks.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari downplayed reported violations of his country’s airspace by Indian aircraft a day earlier. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he hopes relations can be "normalized" – but not until "our neighbor stops allowing its territory to be used for acts of terrorism against India."
The two countries have fought three wars against each other since independence from Britain in 1947. Despite a peace process that began in 2004, tensions remain high, and each country wants to avoid showing any weakness to the other.
India has called on Pakistan to crack down on militant groups operating out of Pakistan, particularly Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been blamed for the Mumbai attacks that left more than 160 people dead.
Pakistan has carried out raids on a charity believed to be linked to Lashkar, but also urged India to provide further evidence.
Abdullah Ghaznavi, Lashkar’s chief spokesman, denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks, saying his group only targets Indian forces and Indian defense installations as part of efforts to force India out of its portion of the disputed Kashmir region.
"This is a jihad, and it will continue," Ghaznavi told The Associated Press in a call Sunday from an undisclosed location.
He also claimed his group has "no direct or indirect links" with the Taliban or al-Qaida.
"We neither finance them nor support them," he said.
Pakistani officials said Indian aircraft entered one to three miles (two to four kilometers) inside Pakistan’s section of Kashmir and over the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday.
Pakistani jets chased the Indian aircraft back over the border, authorities here said.
Both sides are usually careful to avoid such territorial violations, and it was unclear how two separate but apparently accidental incursions could occur on the same day.