WASHINGTON: The United States has cautioned against making any assumptions linking Pakistan to the latest violence in the Indian occupied Kashmir, while also brushing aside the notion that last week's meeting between Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Secretary of State John Kerry was somehow connected to the flare-up in the Uri area.
A State Department spokesperson, while expressing concern over violence in the disputed Himalayan region divided between the two countries, also urged India and Pakistan to hold dialogue on the Kashmir issue.
“I think that you're conflating a couple of things. Obviously, we know the Secretary and the army chief of staff had a very productive discussion on Sunday on a range of security-related issues, and again, we're concerned about any violence in Kashmir, and I wouldn't jump to conclusions here,” Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told an Indian journalist in response to his questions at the daily briefing.
The premise of the question sought to put the blame on Pakistan for Friday's incident and the questioner also wanted to know the United State's position on whether was a link between the meeting and the fighting involving militants and Indian soldiers in Uri in Indian-held Kashmir.
“No, I was saying - I actually was trying not to accept the premise of the question,” the spokesperson emphasised, when asked if she accepted the premise in the question about who might have been behind the violence.
When asked if the US does not know whether there was any Pakistani involvement, the spokesperson cautioned against any assumptions: “I wouldn't assume anything.”
According to media reports, 11 Indian soldiers and six militants were killed when fighting broke out in Uri, rocking the region ahead of Indian prime minister Narendra Modibs visit to Indian-held Kashmir.
Reiterating Washington's position on addressing the Kashmir dispute, the spokesperson said: “So obviously we're concerned about any violence in Kashmir. Our policy on Kashmir hasn't changed. We still believe that the pace and the scope and character of India and Pakistan's dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, of course.”
She also added that American embassies in both capitals, Islamabad and New Delhi, “have raised these types of incidents with their respective host governments and certainly encouraged both to continue working together on the issue.”
Later, a senior State Department official said the United States strongly condemns Friday's terrorist attacks in Kashmir, which claimed the lives of innocent civilians, military, and police personnel.
“The United States remains firmly committed to working in close partnership with India to defeat terrorism in all its forms. Our hearts go out to the families of those affected by this deplorable attack,” a statement issued Friday evening said.