Welcoming India’s decision to reduce troop strength in Jammu and Kashmir, a top US military official has said the move is vital to stability in the region.

“I really do believe that “de-tensioning” that (Kashmir) border is absolutely critical to the long term stability in that region. And it is going to take outreach on the part of both countries,” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told newsmen here.

“So, I am very positively moved by the steps that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Government has taken with respect to this,” Mullen said in response to a question on the recent decision taken by New Delhi to reduce troops from Jammu and Kashmir and its implications in the region.

“I think that the adjustments that the Indians have proposed, and to the degree that has been executed - I am just not current on the level of execution right now - but certainly executing those changes is a very positive step,” Mr. Mullen said.

“I think the leadership - the political leadership, the diplomatic leadership and military leadership in both countries and in the region need to continue to encourage and also to respond,” Mr. Mullen said.

The top US military official who has made several trips to Pakistan in the last one year and has been in constant contact with top Pakistani military leadership, said resolution of Kashmir dispute is very critical for the stability in the region.

“In the long-run, resolution of border in the east, in Kashmir, is a very important outcome. Obviously, that is a principal concern to India and Pakistan. But it is a concern to many others in terms of stability of the region. I think that is a key part of what needs to happen in the future,” Mr. Mullen said.

Responding to a question, Mullen said he has been to Pakistan many, many times now and will return again in the near future.

“I have seen the Pakistani government as well as the Pakistani military address these increasing concerns, both clearly express concerns, both east and west,” he said.

Observing that there is the need to recognise that this is a regional challenge, Mullen said a key part of the President’s strategy is to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan and to improve the level of coordination across and within those border regions.

“I believe that to the degree we can do this, we can certainly help the Pakistanis themselves get at those safe havens, and I would just add here that the Pakistani military has been achieving a good level of success in those areas, most recently in South Waziristan,” he said.

“It is clear to me that Gen. Kayani is doing exactly as he said he would, and I very much appreciate his leadership. He understands the danger all too well,” Mr. Mullen said.

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