WASHINGTON: The US State Department said on Thursday that Washington supports direct talks between India and Pakistan but will not tell them how to conduct those discussions.

At the regular news briefing in Washington, spokesperson Matthew Miller also emphasised a strong counterterrorism partnership with Pakistan, stating that both countries are committed to maintaining this relationship.

“We value our important relationships with both India and Pakistan. As we have said, we support direct discussions between India and Pakistan,” said Mr Miller while responding to a question about recent interactions between Indian and Pakistani leaders.

“But the pace, scope, and character should be determined by them and not us,” he added.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif initiated the move by sending a congratulatory message to his Indian counterpart on a third straight election victory and expressed the desire to improve sour ties between the two neighbouring states.

The US official also commented on a recent statement by Pakistan’s US Ambassador Masood Khan, who pointed out that TTP terrorists were using American weapons against Pakistan, acquired in Afghanistan. He urged Washington to provide weapons to Pakistan to effectively combat these terrorists.

“The United States and Pakistan have a shared interest in combating threats to regional security,” said Mr Miller when asked to comment on the ambassador’s statement.

“We partner with Pakistan in security through our high-level counterterrorism dialogue, including several counterterrorism capacity-building programmes, and we support a series of US-Pakistan military-to-military engagements,” he added.

The United States, he said, also maintains regular communication with Pakistani leaders as part of a bilateral partnership on counterterrorism issues.

“And we will continue to discuss regional security in detail, including through our annual counterterrorism dialogue and other bilateral consultations,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

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