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India Says Mumbai Accused Can Be Tried In Pakistan

Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India is still seeking the extradition of those behind the Mumbai attacks.
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -- The accused in the Mumbai attacks could be tried and punished in Pakistan, India's foreign minister has told a news channel, marking a climbdown in New Delhi's demand that Islamabad hand over the militants.

"Yes, this can happen," Pranab Mukherjee told the India Today group in a television interview when asked if India would agree to a trial of the accused in Pakistan, according to a transcript released by the group.

"The authorities there should not let them go scot-free. A fair trial should be held, not mock ones. The prosecution should be done properly. They should be caught and tried there."

Mukherjee's comments came earlier this week, after Britain's foreign secretary said the Pakistani state was not linked to the Mumbai attacks and he showed no support for India's demand for extradition of the accused.

Tensions have flared between the nuclear-armed neighbors since the attacks, which India blamed on Pakistani militants backed by some official agencies there.

India went into diplomatic overdrive to gain support for its case after the November attacks that killed 179 people, but some of its Western allies such as the United States and Britain expressed doubts New Delhi had enough evidence to implicate the Pakistani state.

"We have never given up the demand that the perpetrators of the terror act should be handed over to India," Mukherjee said, referring to the accused in the Mumbai raids. "We will be glad if they hand them over to us."

"But if they don't, at least they should hand over those other criminals who have committed offences here and escaped the law and taken shelter there," he said, referring to 40 people India wants extradited from Pakistan.

"They are obliged to hand over those criminals to us."

Besides demanding extradition of the accused, India also wants Pakistan to destroy what it says are militant camps.

While India is frustrated by what it sees as Pakistan's failure to act, Islamabad says New Delhi is ratcheting up tensions and indulging in war hysteria.

India has handed Pakistan data from satellite phones used by the attackers and what it describes as the confession of a surviving gunman, part of a dossier of evidence.

Pakistan has said the dossier did not amount to evidence and that the "information" needed to be carefully examined.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947.