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US urges India, Pakistan to stay engaged

August 09, 2013
US State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki. — File Photo
US State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: Reacting to an attack on Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, the United States has once again urged India and Pakistan to engage in further dialogue for reducing tensions.

“We understand that the governments of India and Pakistan are in contact over the issue, and we continue to encourage, of course, further dialogue,” US State Department’s spokesperson Jen Psaki told a briefing in Washington. “We think that’s the best step to resolve” this issue.

The youth wing of the ruling Congress party in India attacked the Pakistan High Commission on Wednesday, forcing Islamabad to demand extra security for its staff.

Relations between India and Pakistan have nose-dived following India’s claim that Pakistani troops had killed five Indians soldiers on the LoC on Aug 6.

Pakistan has rejected the Indian charges as baseless, saying that there has been no such incident along the disputed border.

Asked to comment on these developments, the US State Department official said: “We, of course, are aware of them. We’re concerned about any violence, as always, along the Line of Control.”

Asked if the people of Kashmir should also be included in any dialogue between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory, Ms Psaki said: “Our policy has not changed. We still believe that these discussions and negotiations should take place with a dialogue between India and Pakistan.”

When an Indian journalist asked if India should take steps inside Pakistan to stop the alleged firing from the Pakistani side, Ms Psaki once again urged the two South Asian neighbours to stay engaged. “Our position has not changed. We believe it should be a dialogue between India and Pakistan,” she said.

Asked if the tensions persist, will it distract Pakistan’s attention from the fight against Al Qaeda and other militants, Ms Psaki said: “Well, we’re encouraging them to continue their dialogue, and we’re hopeful that that will take place. Beyond that, I’m not going to look into a crystal ball.”

The US official also pointed out that Pakistan had continued to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorists.

“We have a great deal of cooperation on counter-terrorism of all kinds — I don’t speak to all kinds from here — with Pakistan, and that will continue,” she said.

Asked if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government was more cooperative than the previous Pakistani government, Ms Psaki noted that the PML-N government was just sworn in and US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Islamabad just last week.

“Certainly counter-terrorism was a part of the discussion,” that Secretary Kerry held with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad “but we’ll continue to work with them, and I can’t give you an evaluation quite yet,” she said.