May 2000 News

US hails India''s move to open talks with Hurriyat

25 May 2000
Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: The United States today termed India''s move to open talks with released Hurriyat Conference leaders as an ''important contribution'' towards resolving the Kashmir issue and asked Pakistan to take ''positive steps'' to facilitate resumption of the stalled bilateral dialogue with New Delhi. Welcoming India''s decision to release jailed Hurriyat leaders, visiting US Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering said it was an ''important step'' and hoped Pakistan too would ''positively'' understand the situation and ''make a positive contribution''. Stating that resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue was at the ''centre stage'' of his talks with Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh, Pickering told newspersons that ''we would like to see positive steps'' taken by Islamabad on the ground for real progress. Replying to a question on Washington''s assessment if Pakistan had initiated measures to halt cross-border terrorism against India, Pickering said New Delhi had made it clear that there has been ''no detectable change'' in Islamabad''s approach since President Bill Clinton visited South Asia in last March and that infiltration by terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir continued unabated. Replying to a question on any future talks between New Delhi and Hurriyat leaders, Pickering said India should take the wishes of the people of Kashmir into account while dealing with the issue. On reports that Pakistan was preparing to conduct another nuclear test, Pickering said such reports were ''disturbing'' and hoped that both Islamabad and New Delhi would maintain their commitment against testing. Washington, he said, would continue to encourage both neighbours to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He said the 1998 nuclear tests by India and Pakistan did not contribute to the stability of the region and maintained that the potential of nuclear weapons being used in any future conflict existed. On return of democracy in Pakistan, he said Washington was not ''questioning or describing his talks as ''very full and friendly'', he said the US and India shared a ''broad interest'' in the future of the Asia and wanted maintenance of stability in the region. (PTI)


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