US Raises Pitch On K Issue9 June 2010
Washington DC: United States Wednesday said Kashmir is a very important issue between India and Pakistan and hoped that the two South Asian neighbours would make progress in understanding it as they proceed with their dialogue. “We recognise that Kashmir is a very, very important issue between India and Pakistan,” US State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily news briefing. He was responding to a question on the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Jammu and Kashmir and his offer of talks with the separatists if they abandon violence and abide by the Indian constitution. 'As the dialogue between India and Pakistan continues to expand including at the leader-level, we hope that India and Pakistan can make progress in understanding this issue and moving forward, just as they did a few years ago,' Crowley said. Of late the Obama Administration has given emphasis to bridge trust deficit between the two nations and initiation of confidence building measures so that leaders can sit and resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir. US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake noted that from 2004 to 2007, the two countries did make quite a lot of progress on Kashmir, where they had this bilateral back channel that took place in which they had a chance for the first time to sit down very quietly and explore the outlines of an agreement. 'They didn't quite reach the end of it, but I think they made a great deal of progress. And that, again, could be picked up, I think, relatively quickly if they can sort out some of these other issues that I talked about,' he said. In an interview last week, National Security Advisor Gen (rtd) James Jones said that the Obama Administration is offering assistance to India and Pakistan based on what both countries would like. 'We take the direction from India and Pakistan to try to be interlocutor that is handy and helpful. But basically, this has to be done by the Indian and Pakistani authorities,' Jones said. He said certain things need to be done in order to bring about any kind of a long-term resolution and 'that's why bilaterally with Pakistan, we are focusing on problems of terrorism' India and Pakistan will hold Foreign Minister level talks next month and leaders from both sides have said that the trust deficit between them needs to be bridged. India had suspended the composite dialogue process with Pakistan in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack.