May 2000 News

US asks Pak to take concrete steps for talks with India

7 May 2000
Daily Excelsior

Washington DC: The United States has asked Pakistan to take concrete steps for resumption of a productive dialogue with India and a return to the Lahore spirit with the provision that there would be no more Kargils. Stressing that a solution to the problems in Kashmir would have to be home grown and not exported from outside, Assistant Secretary of State Karl F Inderfurth said that efforts being undertaken by the Indian Government to address Kashmiri concerns are a positive development that will produce beneficial results over time. In this context, Inderfurth, who is in charge of South Asia at the State Department, welcomed the release of Hurriyat leaders. During an interview to PTI here, Inderfurth spoke of a new relationship with India, emphasizing that Pakistan was not a factor in this. The differences between India and Pakistan are obvious. Right now we have more opportunities to pursue with India, and frankly, right now we have many more concerns about the direction Pakistan is heading. But we are not making a choice between either and we are not attempting to tilt in this relationship. We would like to see the word ‘tilt’ consigned to a historical period that we have gone beyond, he said. Inderfurth expressed the hope that Pakistan would take concrete steps that would allow a productive and serious dialogue to be resumed between Pakistan and India. We would like to see a return if not to the city of Lahore, to the spirit of Lahore, with the provison no more Kargils, he said. What assurances Pakistan should give India for the talks to take place was to be determined by the parties, he said, recalling that President Clinton had made it very clear we are concerned and we see ourselves playing a supporting, encouraging role. The President, said Inderfurth, had made it very clear where the US stood on the cross-border terrorism issue. We should keep our fingers crossed and our guard up that things will happen and unfold in a positive way. It is that season in Kashmir where it is springtime and there is normally an increase in the level of activity. We hope we won’t see that this year but we will watch it carefully, he added. Inderfurth said that the US had expressed the view on many public occasions that the issue of Kashmir must be resolved by the parties themselves, India and Pakistan taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. How that will be done is something that is not for the US to spell out, said Inderfurth, who added: I think that if there is a political will to seriously address the Kashmir issue, a political will combined with political courage, it could be addressed in a way that will take into account the concerns of all the parties. Asked whether the US has a solution for Kashmir, Inderfurth said that it was for the parties to determine that solution through reconciliation and dialogue. It would serve no purpose for the US to speak out or spell out a solution for Kashmir. That has to be home-grown. It is not an export. Asked whether the US had any views on the opinion expressed by some about a possible option of the Line of Control becoming the border between India and Pakistan, Inderfurth said: I don’t think it will serve any purpose for me, on the record or even on background or off the record, to engage in a discussion about the possible settlement. He repeated that the settlement must be home-grown. On US-India relations, Inderfurth said that what President Clinton did during his visit to India was to change the terms of the Indo-US relationship. Even though it is now over a month since the President was in India, that trip continues to resonate. But we are not stopping there, said Inderfurth. We are building on that new relationship even as we speak. He said that he was just reviewing the agenda for the meetings Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering will have with Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh at the end of this month. Since the President’s visit the two countries have had further meetings of the joint working group on counterterrorism in Washington. There had also been meetings on export control issues relating to nonproliferation. Discussions were going on between the two capitals about the most convenient date for Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Washington to see President Clinton. (PTI)


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