Burns 'pushes' India to resume talks with Pakistan

India is crucial global partner of the US in the 21st century

Burns 'pushes' India to resume talks with Pakistan

US Under Secretary of State William J Burns conveyed the message from Washington when he called on External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and had a meeting with Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon here. He also met Home Minister P Chidambaram.

Menon is understood to have told Burns that New Delhi was not averse to resumption of dialogue with Islamabad, but the Pakistan government would have to take credible actions against terrorist outfits that affect India. Burns did not disclose the details of his meeting with Menon while briefly interacting with media persons in front of the South Block here. But Ian Kelly, the spokesman of the US Department of State, told a news conference in Washington just on the eve of Burns’ visit to New Delhi that the latter’s brief included pushing India for resumption of talks with Pakistan. India had suspended the composite dialogue with Pakistan after the 26/11 terrorist attacks on Mumbai last year. The two nuclear neighbours had started talks in February 2004. “India is a major foreign policy priority for the US. It is also our crucial global partner in the 21st century,” Burns told journalists just after a 40-minute meeting with Krishna.

The US official carried with him a special message from Clinton for Krishna. He said he was looking forward to further deliberations on Thursday “to chart ambitious bilateral agenda for the next phase in the strategic partnership” between the two countries.

He may meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, too. “The most important point is that terror, which has been unleashed from the soil of Pakistan and is directed against India has to be stopped,” said Krishna. He added that a favourable climate for the resumption of dialogue could be created only if all “instrumentalities of terrorism” on the Pakistani territories were dismantled. he PM too on Tuesday indicated India was ready to “try again to make peace with Pakistan”. He told the Lok Sabha  that if Islamabad takes the road to peace and dismantle all terrorist infrastructures, India would meet Pakistan “more than half way”.

Burns is the first high-ranking official from President Obama’s administration to visit India after the new government took office. His visit is being viewed as a prelude to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s much-awaited visit to New Delhi in July. Clinton’s visit will be her maiden to India after President Obama took office in Washington and she joined the US administration as Secretary of State. “We have made known our points of view and we are trying to understand the US point of view,” said the External Affairs Minister.

Though Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visited India before the just-concluded parliamentary polls, India has been eagerly looking forward to the visits by Burns and Clinton to understand the US policies.

Ever since the probe into the Mumbai carnage revealed that it had been planned in Pakistan and the terrorists had come from the neighbouring country, New Delhi has been mounting pressure on Islamabad to bring to justice the masterminds and perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.

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