U.S. welcomes India-Pakistan joint statement on ceasefire
Terms it a positive step towards greater peace, stability in South Asia
The U.S. has welcomed the announcement by India and Pakistan that they would observe the 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC). The White House called for the two countries to build upon this progress and the State Department encouraged a reduction in tensions and violence along the LoC.
“…The United States welcomes the joint statement between India and Pakistan: that the two countries have agreed to maintain strict observance of a ceasefire along the Line of Control starting on February 25. This is a positive step towards greater peace and stability in South Asia, which is in all shared — is in our shared interest. And we encourage both countries to keep building upon this progress,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at Thursday’s briefing.
“ …We welcome … the joint statement between India and Pakistan that the two countries have agreed to maintain strict observance of a ceasefire along the Line of Control starting on February 25. We encourage continued efforts to improve communication between the two sides and to reduce tensions and violence along the Line of Control,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday.
In response to a question on the U.S. role, if any, in brokeringthe agreement between India and Pakistan, Mr. Price did not identify any specific actions but articulated the general U.S. position — a reduction in tensions and a condemnation of cross-border terror as well as a dialogue on Kashmir and other issues.
“I think what I can say and what you’ve heard me say from this podium, and others from this administration say, is that we had called on the parties to reduce tensions along the Line of Control byreturning to that 2003 ceasefire agreement. We have been very clear that we condemn the terrorists who seek to infiltrate across the Line of Control,” he said.
On U.S. role
“When it comes to the U.S. role, we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern. And as I said just a moment ago, we certainly welcome the arrangement that was announced that will take place — go into effect, I should say, on February 25,” he added.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had ruffled feathers in New Delhi with repeated offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. Mr Trumphad announced in July 2019 that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate on Kashmir with External Affairs MinisterS Jaishankar “categorically” assuring Parliament that no such request was made.
On Thursday, Mr Price was asked about the relationship the Biden administration would have with Pakistan — given the “warm relationship” the U.S. President had with Pakistan when he was Vice-President (especially in the Afghanistan context) — and how he intends to stay neutral between India and Pakistan.
“Well, Pakistan is an important partner with whom we sharemany interests. We, as I said, have been clear in terms of thisissue. Obviously, Pakistan has an important role to play when it comes to Afghanistan and what takes place across its other border. So clearly we will be paying close attention, and we urge the Pakistanis to play a constructive role in all of these areas of mutual interest, including in Afghanistan, including with Kashmir, including with our other shared interests,” he said.
On whether Pakistan was doing enough in terms of cross border terrorism, Ms. Psaki referred the question to the State Department and intelligence team for an assessment but said the U.S. will remain “ closely engaged” with a “range of leaders and officials in the region, including those in Pakistan.”
UN chief ‘encouraged’
“The Secretary-General is encouraged by the joint statement issued by the militaries of India and Pakistan on their agreement to observing the ceasefire at the Line of Control in Kashmir and engaging through established mechanisms,” spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.
“He hopes that this positive step will provide an opportunity for further dialogue,” the spokesperson said.
The EU has also welcomed the agreement to observe a ceasefire and engage through established mechanisms.
“This is an important step in the interest of regional peace and stability on which to build further bilateral dialogue.” Nabila Massrali, EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said.