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Updated: May 1, 2010 06:34 IST

U.S. ‘encouraged’ by resumption of Indo-Pak talks

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Pakistani counter Yusuf Raza Gilani during their meeting on the sidelines of the 16th SAARC summit on Thursday. Photo: PTI
PTI Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his Pakistani counter Yusuf Raza Gilani during their meeting on the sidelines of the 16th SAARC summit on Thursday. Photo: PTI

The United States on Friday said that it is “encouraged” by the decision taken by Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers to resume dialogue between the two neighbouring countries.

“Our understanding is, it was a very positive cordial meeting. There were the pledges of further conversation by their Foreign Ministers. We are very encouraged by it,” Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley, told PTI.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday met his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani in Thimphu on the margins of the SAARC Summit in the Bhutanese capital during which the two leaders agreed to resume dialogue at the level of Foreign Ministers soon that could lead to parleys on all outstanding issues including terrorism.

The meeting that lasted for 90-minutes was their first “substantive engagement” after their discussions in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt in July last year.

The two Prime Ministers entrusted their Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries with the responsibility of restoring confidence and trust in the relations that could pave the way for substantive dialogue on outstanding issues of mutual concern.

The Obama Administration which is quietly pushing the two countries -- through their bilateral discussions to resume their talks -- had sent Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake to the SAARC Summit as an observer.

A day before the much anticipated meeting, the State Department had said the development is good for the region.

“We have encouraged the leaders of Pakistan and India, to restore, direct dialogue that has been characteristic of the relation between those two countries within the last few years. We’re encouraged that they are taking steps to do that,” Mr. Crowley said.

“I think we always think that when leaders of countries, you know, particularly countries with the history of --the unique history of India and Pakistan -- any time they can get together for high-level, constructive dialogue, that is good for the region, and we support it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Blake in his intervention at the SAARC summit on Thursday, Mr. Crowley said, reflected on America’s mutual efforts to promote climate change, trade, efforts at disaster management and mitigation, and agriculture and food security.

“In 2010, the United States will provide a total of USD 4.4 billion in bilateral assistance programs to member countries of the SAARC and additional money for various regional assistance programs,” Mr. Crowley said.

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