US Wants Indo-Pak Talks On Kashmir: Clinton

20 November 2009
The Dawn

Washington DC: The United States is negotiating some measurements with both Pakistan and Afghanistan to determine success in the fight against extremists, says US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In three separate interviews to US, Afghan and British media outlets, released by the State Department on Friday, the secretary also acknowledged that the United States was encouraging India and Pakistan to resume their efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir issue. ‘I don’t think that they’re benchmarks … what we’re trying to do is create some measurements that can determine whether we’re succeeding,’ said the secretary when asked if the US was negotiating specific benchmarks with Afghanistan and Pakistan to pave the way for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan. Referring to her talks with the Afghan defence minister in Kabul this week over better integration between the Afghan and international forces in Afghanistan, she said: ‘That’s a good benchmark. That’s the kind of benchmark we’re looking at, because what we want to see is how we determine that we’re making progress on the path … where your military will have what it needs to begin to take responsibility for much of the country.’ Mrs Clinton said that over the last 10 months, the US and Pakistan had developed a much higher degree of cooperation and communication. She noted that only 10 months ago, the two countries didn’t have the necessary trust that ‘you have to have in order to listen to the other side and say, okay, I agree with you and I’m going forward’. ‘The cooperation between our militaries, the personal relationships that have been established between, for example, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, and chief of the army in Pakistan General Kayani, are incredibly important in helping to break down barriers,’ she added. ‘So when we said at the beginning of this administration that we were disappointed that the Pakistani government was not going after the Taliban - because we saw them as a direct threat to the Pakistani government – and that then the Pakistanis themselves reached a consensus they had to do that, we thought there was a very significant change in attitude.’ The US, she said, would continue to press them to go after all of the extremists in Pakistan. ‘Are you looking at tackling the Kashmir problem to try to help Pakistan really move its focus to the border with Afghanistan?’ she was asked. ‘Well, we’ve encouraged both countries to resume a dialogue that they were engaged in which came to a halt and yet holds a lot of promise. They had made progress, I’m told, in sorting through some of the longstanding difficulties they face, and most particularly the status of Kashmir. But it’s clear that any solution has to come from the two countries themselves,’ said the top US diplomat. ‘You’re not pushing? ‘Well, we are encouraging them to get back into dialogue. We think that is important. But with respect to any resolution, that’s up to them,’ she responded.