White House glad at productive Indo-Pak meeting in Russia

We are glad to hear the (two) leaders had a productive meeting in Russia and hope that they will continue to talk and meet regularly," White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said.

Singh and Zardari met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Russia for the first time after the Mumbai terror attacks which killed 183 people and stalled the composite dialogue process.

"The (Obama) Administration welcomes dialogue between the leaders of India and Pakistan, which we feel is essential to reducing bilateral tensions," Hammer said.

Announcing his new Af-Pak policy, US President Barack Obama on March 27 stressed on the need to engage both India and Pakistan in constructive diplomacy so as to reduce the tension between the two countries.

In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, India had stopped peace dialogue with Pakistan.

The Obama Administration, which is focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, believes that better ties between India and Pakistan is the key to the success in the war against terrorism in the region. It has been urging both the countries to restart the dialogue and efforts to improve relationship between them.

"We are strongly supportive of such efforts as they help to stabilise the region," Hammer said.

Early this week, the State Department too had welcomed the meeting between Indian and Pakistani leaders in Russia.

"A resumption of such high-level engagement in the aftermath of the November Mumbai attacks is encouraging," State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly had said.

Noting that the US has always welcomed dialogue and better relations between India and Pakistan, Kelly said: "It is also obvious that the pace, the scope and the character of that dialogue is something for Indian and Pakistani leaders to decide."

How and when to approach that dialogue is something for India and Pakistan to decide, Kelly said, reiterating the well-known stand of the United States that there should not be a third party mediation between the two countries.

"We have said before that India and Pakistan need to continue their dialogue to find joint solutions against terrorism and to promote regional stability," Kelly said.

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