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Updated: February 26, 2010 16:55 IST

US says Indo-Pak talks a 'courageous step'

PTI
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. Photo: AP
AP U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. Photo: AP

Commending the Indo-Pak leadership for the “courageous” step of holding Foreign Secretary-level talks, the U.S. has said the two countries have realised that only they can resolve their differences bilaterally.

“I think both countries realise there are lots of important issues that only they can resolve between them, but the United States has encouraged the dialogue and we obviously hope that it will be productive,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.

”...We are heartened by the fact that they are resuming a dialogue,” she said responding to questions from the members of Foreign Affairs and Related Programmes Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

On the meeting between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in New Delhi on Thursday, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley said it was a “very encouraging step“.

“We certainly commend the leadership for (showing) political courage and making sure that the meeting takes place. Now, the challenge is to build on this...,” he told reporters here.

Though not much visible progress was made during Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Crowley said “the very fact that the top officials of two countries met in itself is very encouraging.”

”... there were some events recently where some elements were trying to derail the prospect of this meeting because they recognise that this has been beneficial to both countries in the past, it was a courageous step to open the door to dialogue again,” he said.

“The Obama Administration has have long encouraged the restoration of dialogue between the two countries. It is an important step for Pakistan and India, and we commend the political leadership in both countries,” Mr. Crowley said.

On the possibility of the Taliban getting hold of the Pakistan nuclear weapons and India taking preventive measures, Ms. Clinton said, “Well, Congressman, that’s an extremely important issue and it’s one that we take as a very high priority in our efforts with both countries. We are heartened by the fact that they are resuming on a dialogue.”

“They made progress in the last dialogue between then (Pakistan) President (Pervez) Musharraf and Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh. It was suspended when Mr. Musharraf left office. It is now only being resumed,” Ms. Clinton continued.

On Pakistan’s actions, she said the Obama Administration has been encouraged by the results of military and intelligence operations over the last several weeks that resulted in the capture and detention of some of the key members of the so-called Quetta Shurra, a very high ranking Taliban leader, right up there with Mullah Omar.

“We have also been encouraged by the Pakistani military’s successful efforts to rout Taliban from their own country, from Swat to North Waziristan, and we are working very closely with the government, both the democratically elected government and the military and ISI,” she said

“But we believe that the people and government of Pakistan have, over the course of this past year, understood the direct threat to their state’s survival posed by the extremists inside Pakistan, that it’s not a problem for someone else.

“That they are operating out of Pakistan, that given the brutality and the horrific attacks targeted at mosques, markets, universities, volleyball games, police stations, ISI headquarters, this has been now seen for what it is — a direct assault on the sovereignty and capacity of the Pakistan government,” Ms. Clinton said, adding she was quite pleased to see the vigorous response coming forth from Pakistan.


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