India demanded Pakistan hand over 20 of its most wanted fugitives as a sign of good faith, while both sides Tuesday tried to cool tensions over the Mumbai attacks before a visit by Washington's top diplomat.
India's foreign minister said military action was not being considered and his Pakistani counterpart offered a joint probe to find the militants responsible for a three-day rampage that killed 183 in India's financial capital.
Indian accusations that Pakistan had again let militants stage attacks from its soil have stirred longstanding tensions and threatened to reverse improving ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Yesterday, India renewed its years-old demand for fugitives it believes are hiding in Pakistan, via a protest note given to Pakistan's High Commissioner Shahid Malik in New Delhi on Monday, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.
"We have in our demarche (diplomatic protest) asked for the arrest and handover of those persons who are settled in Pakistan and who are fugitive of Indian law," he said yesterday, adding about 20 people were on the list.
Officials said the list included Dawood Ibrahim, a Mumbai underworld leader, and Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani Muslim cleric freed from jail in India in exchange for passengers on a hijacked plane.
New Delhi's foreign ministry said on Monday that Malik had been told that "Pakistan's actions needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wishes to have a qualitatively new relationship with India".
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in India today to try to lower tensions in the region following the attacks in Mumbai.
Joint probe offered
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking in a televized address, said Pakistan wanted good relations with India and that now was not the time for a "blame game, taunts (and) finger-pointing".
"The government of Pakistan has offered a joint investigating mechanism and a joint commission to India. We are ready to jointly go into the depth of this issue and we are ready to compose a team that could help you," Qureshi said.
Qureshi made no mention of the fugitive list, but Information Minister Sherry Rehman told reporters: "We have to look at it formally once we get it and we will frame a response."
Ibrahim, India's most wanted man, is reported to be living in Pakistan. Security experts say the underworld boss has militant ties, and India wants him for bomb attacks in Mumbai in 1993 that killed at least 250 people.
Newspaper reports have said his henchmen in the city may also have provided support in the latest strike.