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Pakistan Denies Spies Behind Indian Embassy Attack

Pakistan's Qureshi called the report 'rubbish'
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan angrily rejected a report in "The New York Times" that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded members of Pakistan's spy agency helped plan the suicide bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul last month.

"Rubbish," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi responded when asked to comment on the report while in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, where South Asian leaders were attending a regional summit.

"Such news items keep appearing," Qureshi said.

The New York Times this week reported that a senior official of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) confronted Pakistan earlier this month with evidence of ties between members of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, as well as their involvement in the Kabul bomb attack.

Two senior Indian diplomats were among 58 people killed in the July 7 attacks.

The newspaper reported on July 31 that unidentified U.S. government officials said communications had been intercepted between Pakistani agents and militants who carried out the attack.

"No one has given any evidence to us. It's just an allegation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told Reuters from Colombo.

However, Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, in remarks aired by Pakistan television on July 31, said U.S. officials had accused ISI members of tipping off Al-Qaeda-linked militants before U.S. missile attacks on targets in Pakistani tribal lands.

Pakistan's new prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, who returned from his first visit to the United States on July 31, was due to meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Colombo on August 2.

The meeting of the two leaders is taking place against the backdrop of strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

The Kabul attack, breaches of a 2003 cease-fire between Indian and Pakistani forces in the disputed Kashmir region, and media speculation of Pakistani links to a series of bomb attacks on Indian cities have all contributed to the worsening atmosphere.

India said the four-year-old peace process was "under stress" following the attack on its Kabul Embassy.

Before his departure for Colombo, Gilani said Pakistan wanted the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to become an effective grouping and wanted to bolster relations with all of its neighbors.

"We have bilateral relations with all neighbors. We want good relations with India, with Afghanistan, with all neighbors," he told reporters.