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April 28, 2000
US asks Pakistan to create conditions for talks
The United States has asked Pakistan to help create necessary conditions for making meaningful the dialogue that its military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, is trying to have with New Delhi.
Speaking on 'US policy in South Asia: the road ahead', undersecretary of state for political affairs Thomas R Pickering referred to Gen Musharraf's repeated offers to start a dialogue with India and said, "We are asking New Delhi to consider very seriously the possibilities for resuming this dialogue."
But, Pakistan now should do its part to help create the peaceful conditions needed to make such a dialogue meaningful. This need not be a matter of public fanfare, proclamations or even comments. What matters most is to be able to see the reality on the ground, he said.
Pickering, who is visiting New Delhi for discussion with India on Asian security, welcomed India's release of several leaders of the Kashmir All-Party Hurriyat Conference, indicating a willingness to talk with them. Reportedly, other Hurriyat leaders might be released soon, he added.
"Today, the question is how best to move towards the objective of calming the conflict -- and answer, in our view, is through peaceful dialogue between India and Pakistan, in the spirit of the Lahore meeting between their two leaders in February 1999."
The senior state department official recognised the enormous damage that the Kargil incident had done to the Lahore process, insisting, "Kargil cannot be forgotten, but it can and should be transcended."
Pickering said other issues also might be resolved, apart from the broad question of Kashmir. For example, India and Pakistan were once very close to an agreement on the Siachen glacier. Other border issues also could be clear up, including Sir Creek and Wullar barrage, he said.
He also spoke of the possibility of reviving economic co-operation between the two countries, leading to further efforts on political disputes. But even if these issues, or others like them, are not yet ready for definitive solutions, the two countries must find their own way to at least coexist in peace and even better to begin their dialogue over all of these questions, he added.
Earlier, Pickering reiterated that non-proliferation would continue to play "a central role in our relations with the subcontinent".
"Even as we seek to build a new and qualitatively closer relationship with India, that relationship cannot realise its full potential without further progress on non-proliferation," he added.
"We also cannot and will not be able to co-operate on military issues until there is a substantial progress on non-proliferation. We face similar problems in our relations with Pakistan," he added.
In reply to a question, he said there was no change in the US stand on lending to India by international financial institutions. After the imposition of sanctions against India, the US has been allowing funding for human need projects, opposing those dealing with the development of infrastructure.
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