US welcome Pak, India PMs talks, terms meeting a positive step forward

WASHINGTON:  The meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan held on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York is a positive step forward and would improve their bilateral ties, the US said on Tuesday.

However, the Obama administration, which has been encouraging the two countries to resume their peace process, refrained from making any public evaluation of the results of the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

“We welcome any and all high-level discussions between Pakistan and India. That would improve their bilateral relationship,” state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.

“As President Obama said last week, we share an interest with both countries in seeing a peaceful reduction of tensions on the subcontinent, and we continue to support, strongly, efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and we encourage further dialogue,” Ms Psaki said.

When asked to comment on the outcome of the Singh-Sharif meeting, she said, “Well, it’s not for us to evaluate, but dialogue is a positive step forward and we’ll continue to encourage that.”

Responding to a question about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address at the UN General Assembly calling for the resolution of Kashmir dispute, the state department official said there has been no change in US position on this issue.

“Our position on Kashmir has not changed. We still believe the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, and we continue to encourage dialogue,” Psaki said.