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India, Pak should engage in ‘direct’ dialogue: US

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The US has said it encourages “direct” Indo-Pak talks to reduce tensions and believes that both countries would benefit from “practical cooperation”, hours after Pakistan said the bilateral peace process stands “suspended”.

“We believe and it’s been our longstanding position that India and Pakistan stand to benefit from the normalisation of relations and practical cooperation, and we encourage them to do so, to engage in direct dialogue that’s aimed at reducing tensions between the two governments and two countries,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

“We strongly support those efforts, because we believe it will lead to greater stability and peace in the region and is to the benefit of both countries,” Toner said in response to a question on Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit’s remarks that presently the peace process was “suspended”.

Reiterating that there is no change in US’ Kashmir policy, Toner yesterday said the “pace, scope, and character” of talks on this issue depends on India and Pakistan.

“Our policy regarding Kashmir has not changed. The pace, scope and character of those discussions or any discussions on Kashmir must be for the two sides to determine,” he said.

“We support any and all positive steps that India and Pakistan can take to forge closer relations,” Toner said.

Basit, in his remarks in New Delhi yesterday, also made a pointed reference to a former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, currently in detention in Pakistan on charges of spying.

The US official, however, did not respond to questions on the arrest of the Indian national.

“I am aware of the reports about the arrest. I don’t have any details of the arrest,” Toner said.

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