US policy on Kashmir has not changed: State Dept

Aug 20th, 2014 | Category: Kashmir News

Describing the cancellation of next week’s Foreign Secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India as “unfortunate”, the US has said what matters now is that both the countries take steps to improve bilateral relations.

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters in Washington, “It is unfortunate that planned talks between India and Pakistan have fallen through.”

“We continue to support efforts by Pakistan and India to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations. And that is a position we will continue making clear to both parties here,” she said in response to a question.

India on Monday called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries scheduled to be held in Islamabad on August 25, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the Hurriyet leaders.

India cancelled the talks, raising strong objections to consultations held with Hurriyat leaders by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit.

Pakistan described the cancellation of the talks as a “setback” to Pak-India ties and defended its consultations with Kashmiri leaders, saying it was a “long standing practice” to hold such meetings prior to bilateral parleys.

“The Indian decision is a setback to the efforts by our leadership to promote good neighbourly relations with India,” the Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson said in a statement issued in Islamabad.
Harf said, “Irrespective of why either side says the talks were canceled, or why, in fact, they were canceled, what matters now is that both sides take steps to improve their bilateral relations. We’ve been very clear about that directly in conversations with both.” Harf asserted that the US policy on Kashmir has not changed.

“We continue to believe that the pace and the scope and character of any discussions on Kashmir are for India and Pakistan to determine between them. That hasn’t changed and that will remain our position going forward,” she said.

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