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Updated: March 24, 2010 23:07 IST

Pakistan must resolve water issues bilaterally: Hillary

Narayan Lakshman
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that water issues between Pakistan and India would have to be resolved bilaterally, in comments made to a Pakistani television channel here on Tuesday.

Asked whether the United States could play a more robust diplomatic role between India and Pakistan on the issue of water, she said, “We're well aware that there is a 50-year-old agreement between Pakistan and India concerning water.”

Ms. Clinton said that among the various issues being considered within the ongoing Strategic Dialogue between the U.S. and Pakistan, water alone could not be singled out for U.S. intervention.

“I think the issues that you mentioned are all interconnected, and you can't pull one out and say, well, is this now going to become international as opposed to what we can do within the context of our relationship to assist Pakistan,” she said.

Underscoring that water issues should remain within the confines of bilateral dialogue, Ms. Clinton added, “Where there is an agreement, as there is between India and Pakistan on water, with mediation techniques, arbitration built in, it would seem sensible to look to what already exists, to try to resolve any of the bilateral problems between India and Pakistan.”

She further emphasised that the U.S. was willing to directly help Pakistan work on its water issues to the extent that they were purely domestic concerns for Pakistan: “In the course of the strategic dialogue, what we want to do is focus on the problem. If the problem is water or agriculture or energy, without looking externally, as we do in our other strategic dialogues, when we have a strategic dialogue with Russia, it's between the United States and Russia.”

Continuing the U.S.-Russia example to illustrate her views on how the U.S. could similarly help Pakistan on water issues, she said that even if Russia had trouble with China or with another neighbour the U.S.-Russia strategic dialogue would remain between the two countries only. Similarly the U.S.'s strategic dialogue with Pakistan is what her government really wanted to build at the highest level of civilian democratic leadership, she said.

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