No mediation on Kashmir: Obama

Pakistan and India have to find out a solution to the issue, says US president

No mediation on Kashmir: Obama

Describing both India and Pakistan as “great friends” of the US, he said Washington wants to be “helpful” in that process and cannot dictate to them how they should resolve their differences.

“I believe that there are opportunities, maybe not starting with Kashmir but starting with other issues, that Pakistan and India can be in a dialogue together and over time to try to reduce tensions and find areas of common interest,” Obama said in an interview to
Pakistan’s Dawn TV. Obama said this in response to a question as to why his administration has been silent on Kashmir, after he had initially mentioned it.

“Well, I don’t think that we have been silent on the fact that India is a great friend of the US and Pakistan is a great friend of the US, and it always grieves us to see friends fighting. And we can’t dictate to Pakistan or India how they should resolve their differences, but we know that both countries would prosper if those differences are resolved,” Obama said. Ruling out any US mediation between India and Pakistan, Obama said: “We want to be helpful in that process, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to be the mediators in that process. I think that this is something that the Pakistanis and Indians can take leadership on.”

‘Reduce tensions’

Quizzed whether the US has asked India to resume dialogue with Pakistan, Obama said: “Well, what we have said is that we think that all of South Asia would benefit by reduced tensions between India and Pakistan.” On a visit to Delhi earlier this month, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns had surprised the Indian government in remarks at a press meet when he resonated Pakistan’s view that resolution of the Kashmir issue should take into account the “wishes” of the people of the state.

Burns, who had handed over Obama’s letter to Singh, had gone on to say that the “pace, scope and character” of the Indo-Pak dialogue, suspended since the Mumbai terror attacks, be decided by the leaders of the two countries.

In his interview, Obama said, “I think that dialogue is the best way to reduce tensions. And so, you know, we’re hopeful that Prime Minister Singh and President Zardari will do it, and they recently had an opportunity to meet briefly. It wasn’t an extensive conversation but it was the start of what may end up being more productive conversations in the future,” Obama underlined.

Taking on board concerns voiced by lawmakers that the new financial aid should not be used for building up the Pakistan army against India, Obama made it clear that such assistance had to be used against extremism.

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