August 2000 News

Hizb should resume talks minus preconditions, says US

10 August 2000
Indian Express

Washington DC: The United States today blamed the Hizbul Mujahideen for the breakdown of peace talks with India because of its insistence on involving Pakistan, and said the militant outfit should resume dialogue without imposing preconditions. ''It''s not helpful for the Hizbul Mujahideen to insist on new conditions after the ceasefire and offer of dialogue was announced and accepted by India. The August 8 deadline for tripartite talks including Pakistan was added later,'' said State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher. The US had expressed its support for the dialogue. ''We stressed the need for dialogue in this situation. We express our regret that it had broken down.'' Stating that the US valued discussions between Hizbul Mujahideen and the Indian government, Boucher added, ''We would urge both sides to resume this process without preconditions sought to be imposed by Hizbul.'' ''We continue to urge all sides to resume this dialogue in the interest of pursuing peace in Kashmir and between India and Pakistan. We believe that the Hizbul Mujahideen-Indian dialogue was simply not given enough time,'' he remarked. Boucher said the US believes that ''there cannot be a solution to the Kashmir issue without direct discussions between India and Pakistan.'' ''For such solutions to take place, there needs to be a climate of trust created through sincere efforts... a climate where violence can end and where the wishes of the Kashmiri people can be taken into account.'' A correspondent quizzed Boucher on whether insisting that a solution to Kashmir wasn''t possible without direct contact between India and Pakistan was tantamount to favouring Pakistan. Boucher replied: ''We''ve said that the dialogue, the set of discussions between the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Government of India has value, and we would urge those sides to resume this.'' Asked whether the Kashmir issue would dominate the agenda when Prime Minister A.B. Vajapyee visits Washington in mid-September, the spokesperson said, ''Our concern, our interest in the issue of Kashmir, is quite clear. ... It was a (subject matter of) discussion when the President (Bill Clinton) was in India... I''m sure it will be discussed this time as well.


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