'Indo-Pak peace talks crucial to security of the region'

'Indo-Pak peace talks crucial to security of the region'

"The administration is heartened by the fact that there have now been three very significant meetings between India and Pakistan commerce secretaries, foreign ministers -- cricket diplomacy -- and that in fact there are follow-up meetings with home and interior secretaries coming up," Wed Sherman said.

This kind of dialogue between the two countries is absolutely essential, Sherman said in her confirmation hearing for the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

"The US has always supported that dialogue. The pace and scope and character of it is up to, of course, India and Pakistan, and we can't prescribe for them exactly how to proceed," Sherman said.

But it is crucial to both of their security, to the future of their countries, that that take place, she said.

"In addition, it's my understanding that Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh is in Bangladesh today, taking on even more of what Secretary Clinton spoke about in her recent trip to India, and that is seeing India as a -- really a central player in South and Central Asia, taking on more and more of a leadership role in the region," the official said.

"I think that's important not only for India, but for all of us, in terms of the security of the region," Sherman said.

"Over the past few years I've been to India and Pakistan, both as a businesswoman and as part of Track II dialogues," she said.

There is a desire in both countries to move forward, as difficult as their domestic politics sometimes make that, the State Department official said.