US welcomes Singh-Sharif dialogue, calls it ‘a positive step forward’
No stand change on Kashmir issue, US confirms
Washington: The meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York is a positive step forward and would improve their bilateral ties, the US said today.
However, the Obama Administration, which has been encouraging the two countries to resume their peace process, refrained from making any public evaluation of the results of the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
“We welcome any and all high-level discussions between Pakistan and India. That would improve their bilateral relationship,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
“As President Obama said last week, we share an interest with both countries in seeing a peaceful reduction of tensions on the subcontinent, and we continue to support, strongly, efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and we encourage further dialogue,” Psaki said.
Singh had met his Pakistani counterpart Sharif over the weekend in a closely-watched hour-long meeting during which he raised the issue of terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil and asked Islamabad to do more to curb cross border terrorism.
When asked to comment on the outcome of the Singh-Sharif meeting, she said, “Well, it’s not for us to evaluate, but dialogue is a positive step forward and we’ll continue to encourage that.”
Responding to a question on Kashmir, in particular the UN Security Council resolution in this regard, which is being still being insisted upon by Pakistan despite that the Shimla Agreement calls for bilateral resolution of the dispute, the State Department official said there has been no change in its position on this issue.
She further said, “Our position on Kashmir has not changed. We still believe the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, and we continue to encourage dialogue,” she said.