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US wants India-Pakistan talks in conducive atmosphere

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New Delhi: The United States wants India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue but feels a conducive atmosphere needs to be created first, a senior State Department official said on Monday. “We have frequent conversations with our Indian partners on (Pakistan) bringing down cross-border terrorism,” said Alice Wells, the US Principal Deputy Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs, while briefing the Indian media over telephone from the US on the the first-ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held here on September 6.

Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already talked with his new Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, Wells said: “We need conditions to be created for a constructive dialogue.” The US statement reflects New Delhi’s position that talks and terror cannot go together. Wells said that the US would like to work with Pakistan to establish stability and political settlement in Afghanistan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also expressed similar view when he stopped over in Islamabad on September 5, ahead of the first-ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held in New Delhi the next day.

“Secretary Pompeo’s trip to Pakistan was another opportunity for the Secretary to meet the new civilian leadership there and describe the aspirations we have for the (US-Pakistan) bilateral relationship,” Wells said. “We would like to be able to work with Pakistan to establish stability and a political settlement in Afghanistan.”

Wells said the US-Pakistan relationship will be about whether Washington can stop Islamabad from supporting terrorists using its soil. “There has been a very consistent message during Secretary Pompeo’s visit about our desire to work with Pakistan productively, constructively and the kind of concerns we have,” she said.

She also referred to US President Donald Trump’s new South Asia Strategy, describing it as a decisive step that states what the US believes needs to be done to bring stability in the region.

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