Washington: In a blatant snub to Pakistan, the United States on Wednesday gave the cold shoulder to two of Islamabad’s pet peeves - an India-type civil nuclear deal and mediation on Kashmir.
The US has cleared that Pakistan’s hopes for a nuclear deal are not feasible.
Addressing a joint press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the end of the first of two days of a high-level strategic dialogue between Islamabad and Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cleared that such a deal is out of the question.
Hillary further tossed out Pakistan`s request to mediate in resolving bilateral issues like Kashmir with India as it said the country can`t dictate the foreign policy of any of the two South Asian countries.
The US encourages dialogue between India and Pakistan, Hillary added.
The very first question that Hillary fielded at the end of the first round of meetings on Wednesday with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was whether Washington was prepared to discuss an India-type nuclear deal with Pakistan.
Her answer couched in diplomatese made it fairly clear that while Washington was willing to listen to everything on Pakistan`s long wish list presented in a 56-page memorandum ahead of the talks, progress on such "complicated issues" could be expected only over time.
"We have a broad agenda with many complicated issues like the one you referred to," Hillary said without using the "nuclear" word. "... we`ve said that we will listen to and engage with our Pakistani partners on whatever issues the delegation raises."
"We don`t just make announcements and then forget about them and get the headlines and move on," she said. "So this dialogue that we`re engaged in is helping us build the kind of partnership that can make progress over time on the most complicated of issues."
The US "was committed to helping Pakistan meet its real energy needs" and was "particularly pleased that we are moving forward with USD 125 million to Pakistan for energy sector projects," Hillary said.
On Indo-Pak talks, Kashmir
Similarly when asked why "Americans seem too reluctant to play their real role" on issues related to Taliban, terrorism and India, she reiterated that while Washington encouraged a dialogue between India and Pakistan, it was for them to resolve any issues bilaterally.
"Well, I think it`s important to recognise that the United States has positive relationships with both Pakistan and India. And we certainly encourage the dialogue between India and Pakistan," Hillary said.
"The issues that are part of that dialogue need to be addressed, and resolution of them between the two countries would certainly be in everyone` s best interest,” she said.
"But I want to just underscore that our goal in the Obama administration is to make clear that we are going to be a partner with Pakistan going forward on a full range of matters."
"Now, we can`t dictate Pakistani foreign policy or Indian foreign policy. But we can encourage, as we do, the in-depth discussion between both countries that we think would benefit each of them with respect to security and development," Hillary said.
But Qureshi was quick to add that while Islamabad respected US-India bilateral relations, all that it was insisting on was that those relations should not be at the cost of Pakistan. He also suggested that India would have to "revisit its policy" very soon.
"As far as India is concerned, they are a sovereign country and they have bilateral relations and we respect that. But all we are saying that those relations should not be at the cost of Pakistan," he said.
"And we are very clear and I think you are very clear on that. I`m of the view that Pakistan has been willing to engage," Qureshi said. "And I`m confident, as two years down the line, I`m confident of this relationship. I`m confident that India will have to revisit its policy and very soon."
Earlier as the talks began on Wednesday morning, Qureshi again made a public plea to the US to "constructively engage" in the process of peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue with India and sought "non-discriminatory access to vital energy resources," an apparent reference to an India-type nuclear deal.
What did Pak get?
Hillary said the US would sign a letter for "significant road infrastructure" in Pakistan`s troubled northwest.
USAID, the government agency, will also sign a deal for three thermal rehabilitation plans to help ease Pakistan`s chronic energy shortages, she said.
The US has also agreed to let Pakistan`s national carrier PIA fly to Chicago via Barcelona, she said, appreciating Qureshi for his efforts to start the strategic dialogue.
Qureshi, meanwhile, said the US suspicions of Pakistan had gone away and that "the mood was completely different".
"There was appreciation for what we had already done," he said. "I was at the Senate; I was at the House. It`s a 180-degree difference... There were no more question marks, there was no suspicion, there was no `do more,`" he said.
(With Agencies’ inputs)