Indian Muslims Reject Terror Groups, Prime Minister Says

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:16pm EDT

( - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted Wednesday that Muslims in his country have not joined global terror organizations.

"India has 150 million Muslims and I say with some pride to their patriotism that none of them have joined the ranks of gangs like al-Qaeda," Singh told journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

During his visit to the U.S., Singh met with President Bush and addressed a joint session of Congress. Better relations with the U.S., Singh said Wednesday, should improve the diplomacy in his region of the world and ease the terrorist threat.

"I am convinced that an improvement in our relations with the United States will lead to better relations with Pakistan," the prime minister said. India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons and have long maintained mutual hostility, especially over the area bordering the two countries.

"The climate for resolution of these long standing issues (in Jammu and Kashmir) can be easily escalated if Pakistan's territories continue to be used to fund terrorism against our countries," Singh added.

Muslim militants from Pakistan, opposed to New Delhi's control of Indian Kashmir, are believed to be responsible for a suicide bombing in Srinagar, India, on Wednesday. "If acts of terrorism are not under control, that certainly affects my ability to push forward the process of normalizing relations with Pakistan," Singh noted.

The Indian prime minister insisted that governments like his have no interest in compromising with terrorists.

"There can be no compromise with those who resort to terrorism. Terrorism anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. We see the U.S. as an important partner in fighting global terrorism," he said.

"Terrorism poses a complex threat to all open societies and even more so to pluralistic democracies like India and the U.S., for we doubly challenge it with our freedoms and tolerance of diversity," Singh told reporters.

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