Obama Nominee Favors US Encouraging Pakistan-India Talks For Kashmir Resolution

8 July 2009
Associated Press of Pakistan

Washington DC: Describing Kashmir as an “extremely sensitive hotspot” President Barack Obama’s nominee to be US ambassador to New Delhi Timothy Roemer has favored Washingnton encouraging Pakistan-India talks towards resolution of the decades-old conflict. “I think it is an issue. It’s a delicate and sensitive issue. It’s one that-we would diplomatically encourage that the Pakistanis and the Indians first of all improve their relationship, their ties, their trade, their exchanges, to foster peace and more prosperity in that area between their two countries,” he told Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. “Secondly, I think it’s important to try to make sure that, where we can, in front of the scenes, behind the scenes, through diplomatic channels, encourage them to talk about this issue and hopefully resolve it between their two countries,” Roemer, who has been a seasoned Congressman,said. He was responding to a question by Ranking Republican Richard Lugar, who sought Roemer’s views on the US role for resolution of the Kashmir dispute, widely considered at the heart of South Asian tensions. “I think it has been an extremely sensitive hotspot for the world and for the region, where we’ve almost experienced thermonuclear war on several occasions,” added the high-profile nomineee, who served six terms in Congress, and was a key sponsor of legislation to establish the 9-11 Commission, on which he later also served. Roemer stated “just as the Pakistan-India negotiations and relationship is an important one to the president (Obama), the secretary (of State Hillary Clinton), this is also a delicate and important one.” On the eve of November 2008 election, Obama had pledged to help resolve the lingering UN-recognized conflict between the two South Asian nuclear powers. Top American officials have been urging resumption of Pakitan-India talks to reduce tension in the region of high-stakes interests for the United States, which has deployed thousands of its troops in Afghanistan and relies heavily on Pakistan for counterterrorism success in the region. Recently, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns said in New Delhi that Kashmiris’ wishes must be taken into account for any resolution of the dispute.