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`Kashmir very important issue between India, Pak`

The US 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.



Washington: The US 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 this is a very, very important issue between India and Pakistan," 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, that we would 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 maintained that resolving the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan is not on its list of priorities, instead it has given emphasis
to bridging trust deficit between the two nations and initiation of confidence building measures so that leaders are comfortable talking about Kashmir at a later stage.

"I don`t think Kashmir is really the question that`s on the table now," said the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake in an interview to BBC.

"The real question right now is to first, I think, get some progress on the trial of the Mumbai suspects, those who are already in custody in Pakistan and also from the Indian
perspective to see progress by Pakistan on stopping actions by Lashkar-e-Taiba and other Punjab-based terrorist groups against India," Blake said.

Giving the American perspective on Indo-US talks, Blake had said that the above mentioned issues are the real "redlines" for re-establishing the composite dialogue.

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.

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"

PTI

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