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Talks between India & Pakistan for them to decide: US

WASHINGTON: The US has reaffirmed that the pace, the scope and the character of any dialogue between India and Pakistan is a matter for the two countries, asserting that Washington has always supported talks between the two neighbours to ensure peace in South Asia.

Responding to a question raised by a Pakistani journalist on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent remarks seeking peace talks with India, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Monday said that even though the United States wants to see regional stability in South Asia, its relationships with Pakistan and India “stand on their own”.

“We’ve long called for regional stability in South Asia. That’s certainly what we want to see. We want to see it advanced. When it comes to our partnership our partnerships with India and Pakistan, these are relationships that stand on their own. We do not see these relationships as zero-sum,” Price told reporters at his daily news conference.

He further said that the “pace, scope, the character of any dialogue between India and Pakistan is a matter for those two countries.”

In a recent interview with a UAE media outlet, Prime Minister Sharif expressed a desire for talks with India. However, the Prime Minister’s Office later said talks are not possible without India revoking its 2019 actions on Kashmir.

Commenting on Sharif’s remarks, India said it always wanted normal neighbourly ties with Pakistan but there should be an atmosphere free from terror and violence for such a relationship.

India has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.

The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

The relations further deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories.

When asked if the US would open the door for talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and his party if he gets elected as the prime minister, the spokesperson said that Washington is open and would work with any elected government in Pakistan.

“We have demonstrated our desire to see constructive relations with Pakistan over the course of successive governments. As we have said in different contexts, we judge governments by the policies they pursue. It would ultimately be a question of the type of policy that any future government of Pakistan might pursue,” Price said.

Khan, who was removed from power through a no-trust vote in April last year, had alleged that the no-confidence vote was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan. The US has denied the allegations.

 

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