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WASHINGTON: The United States is urging ‘greater dialogue’ between Pakistan and India as relations between the two nuclear neighbours continue to deteriorate.

At a news briefing, a State Department official urged Pakistan to act against all terrorist groups, including those involved in cross-border operations in the region.

“We would encourage greater dialogue and counterterrorism cooperation between Pakistan and India,” said Mark Toner, the State Department’s deputy spokesman, when asked what the US would suggest to reduce tensions between the two countries.

“We’ve said that many times. It’s for the good of both countries; it’s for the good of the region. Frankly, it’s for the benefit of the United States,” he added.

Reports in the Indian and US media, quoting Indian officials, claimed that New Delhi wanted to talk about the alleged “troubles” in Azad Kashmir and not about the popular uprising in the India-held valley.

Islamabad urged to act against all terrorist groups

On Monday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry invited his Indian counterpart to Pakistan for dialogue on the Kashmir dispute in a letter that “highlighted the international obligations of Pakistan and India with regard to resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions”.

Recently, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Islamabad for a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation but refused to hold bilateral talks with Pakistani officials.

And last week, India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that there would be no bilateral talks until Pakistan “stops terrorism against India”.

Asked to comment on her statement, Mr Toner said: “It’s important that Pakistan do the utmost to prevent terrorists from carrying out acts of terror — not just in Pakistan, but elsewhere in the region.”

But he also emphasised the need for both countries to resume dialogue. “It’s important that there’s greater collaboration, greater dialogue. And we would encourage any effort in that regard,” he said.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2016