US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice said India should resume a dialogue with Pakistan and work to reduce months of border tension, following steps by Islamabad to ease the stand-off between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"There is a sense in which as the Pakistanis have tried to be responsive - and they have tried to be responsive, we do believe they are doing some things - that it would be good for India to take some steps too," Rice said.

"The important thing, though, is that everybody stay away from brinkmanship, that nobody use force here and that we give diplomacy and the anti-terror campaign and the dismantling of the terrorist organisations time to work," she said.

Rice said the United States wanted to work closely with India on the anti-terrorism campaign, just as it was doing with Pakistan. At the same time, she said Washington expected Pakistan to address the "legitimate concerns of India over cross-border terrorism."

"We have been very clear with Pakistani president general Pervez Musharraf that we expect to see actions to follow up on his January 12 speech that said Pakistan will end support to extremists."

India accuses Pakistan of funding and arming a Muslim insurgency in Indian-administered Kashmir, but Pakistan denies the charge and says it only extends moral and diplomatic support.

India has also blamed Pakistan for masterminding a December attack on its Parliament by militants, following which a million troops from the two countries were deployed to their common borders. "It would serve no one for India and Pakistan to come to military blows. We need time to work the anti-terrorism agenda," Rice said.

"We have urged the Indian government to give diplomacy the primacy here and to give us all time to dismantle the terrorist networks, to begin dialogue over the issues that are at the root cause here and we think that is the way ahead."

Rice praised Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for showing restraint after the Parliament attack. "It could not have been easy to do what they have done, to keep talking, but we really believe this is the way forward."

Vajpayee has refused to end the border build-up until Pakistan hands over named militants allegedly on Pakistani soil and ends the infiltration of Islamic guerrillas into Indian Kashmir.