The United States has said it has been an explicit proponent of regional stability in South Asia while insisting that a dialogue between the two important regional players — Pakistan and India — was a matter between the two countries.

“We have long called for regional stability in South Asia, but the pace, the scope, the character of any dialogue between India and Pakistan is a matter for those two countries,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a press briefing in Washington on Monday.

The statement from the senior US official comes a week after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to hold serious and sincere talks to resolve burning issues, including Kashmir, and said the United Arab Emirates leadership could play an important role in bringing India and Pakistan to the table.

However, a day later the Prime Minister’s Office clarified that talks with India can only take place after the country reverses its “illegal action of August 5, 2019”, which was aimed at illegally altering the demography of the Muslim-majority state of Indian occupied Kashmir.

At a press briefing, the US State Department spokesperson stressed the need for regional stability while acknowledging the importance of Pakistan and India for the purpose.

Price said the US had long called for regional stability in the region. “That’s certainly what we want to see. We want to see it advanced.”

The senior official said the relationships of the US with Pakistan and India “stand on their own” and were not “zero-sum”.

In response to another question, Price said the United States was open to and would work with any elected government in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a partner of ours; we share a number of interests. We have demonstrated our desire to see constructive relations with Pakistan over the course of successive governments.”

He, however, underlined that the US judges governments by the policies they pursue.

“It would ultimately be a question of the type of policy that any future government of Pakistan might pursue,” he told journalists.

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