Washington: The US favours the resumption of
"direct talks" between India and Pakistan and "encourages"
them to proceed with the dialogue as it is in their mutual
interest, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.
Hours before the Foreign Secretaries of India and
Pakistan held talks in New Delhi, their first meeting since
the Mumbai attacks, Clinton told lawmakers that the Obama
Administration is in favour of resumption of direct Indo-Pak
talks "which were suspended when (then Pakistan) President
(Pervez) Musharraf, left office."
"With respect to India and Pakistan, we have encouraged
the resumption of the direct talks," she said appearing
before a Congressional panel.
"Those talks between President Musharraf and Prime
Minister Singh had actually been quite productive,
particularly in producing results on the ground in Kashmir,"
Clinton said in response to a question on Indo-Pak relations.
The Obama Administration has "encouraged" both countries
to begin a dialogue," she said. "They are going to be doing
so... and we are sensitive to the concerns that they each
have, that it`s their issues that they have to address."
"We continue to raise it and make the case to each
separately as to why it`s in their mutual interest to proceed
(with the talks)," Clinton said.
An influential US newspaper also reported that reducing
tensions between India and Pakistan is a centrepiece of the
Obama administration`s foreign policy amid an expanding war in
"The Obama Administration, which has gently but firmly
pushed the two toward talks, is less interested in the
substance of their discussion than the fact that it is
happening at all," the Washington Post quoted unnamed senior
administration officials as saying.
"For us, the bar is pretty low," one official said.
"We`re looking just to get a dialogue restarted."
The United States wants Pakistan to concentrate less
on its problems with its giant neighbour to the east and more
on eliminating the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other insurgent
groups that are based in Pakistan`s mountainous border region
with Afghanistan, the Post reported.
"To persuade India and Pakistan to talk to each other,
the administration has sharply increased its military and
economic ties to both, and tried to take their mutual concerns
seriously while convincing them that dialogue is in their own
interest," it said.
Pakistan is eager for talks, and President Barack Obama
promised in December that he would help reduce tensions with
India in exchange for Pakistan`s increased cooperation against
insurgents, the Post said.
It claimed that India, the more reluctant participant,
has been wooed and flattered by a series of senior US
officials, along with a pledge to help keep Pakistan in line.