Qureshi tones down on US involvement in Kashmir

Pakistan`s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appeared to tone down his earlier remarks, saying Washington can play a "facilitating role" in resolving Indo-Pak tensions.

New York: After pitching for US
intervention to resolve the Kashmir problem, Pakistan`s
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday appeared to tone
down his earlier remarks, saying Washington can play a
"facilitating role" in resolving Indo-Pak tensions.

Noting that Kashmir was an "outstanding issue" between
India and Pakistan, Qureshi stressed that bilateral talks
between India and Pakistan on Kashmir was always the first
preference.

"I know India is allergic to third party
intervention," the minister said, in response to a
question at the Asia Society where Qureshi was speaking, and
further added that intervention did not mean "dictating
terms."

"They (US) can play a facilitating role but ultimately
it us and we have to see what Kashmiris want," he continued.

"The US is a friend and ally of India," the minister
pointed out, noting that the previous day, President Barack
Obama, speaking at the UN, had mentioned his visit to India
and called the country a "thriving democracy."

Qureshi and Krishna are here to attend the opening
week of the General Assembly but plans of a bilateral between
them have not been firmed up.

Today, however, Qureshi told PTI that "arrangements
are under negotiation."

Qureshi and Krishna had a "chance encounter" on
yesterday at the UN where they greeted each other warmly and
talked about the floods in Pakistan.

The possibilities of a meeting between the two leaders
are still being explored through diplomatic channels though
"there is no decision as yet."

During his visit, Qureshi has been consistently
calling for US intervention in Kashmir but Washington has
showed no inclination to get involved in what India maintain
are "internal matters."

Addressing a small gathering at the Asia Society
today, Qureshi described Kashmir as the "festering sore of
South Asia."

"The United States, as the world leader, has special
responsibility towards finding a just and peaceful solution of
Kashmir," the minister said.

"Occupation and persecution cannot kill Kashmiri
spirit. They are demanding their right to self-determination,"
he added.

This follows his remarks at the Council on Foreign
Relations, a New York based think tank, where he said, "We
call upon the United States particularly, which is pressing so
responsibly for peace in the Middle East, to also invest its
political capital in trying to help seek an accommodation for
Kashmir."

At the same time, Qureshi underscored that the need
for peace between Pakistan and India, and underlined that
there existed several areas of potential cooperation between
the two countries including combating climate change,
terrorism and poverty.

Describing Krishna`s last visit to Pakistan as
"useful," Qureshi stressed the importance of resuming the
"composite dialogue" and get the peace process on track.

Krishna is in New York till the 29th and Qureshi is
here till the 30th.

PTI

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