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|August 10, 2000|
US blames Hizb for ceasefire breakdown
C K Arora in Washington
The Clinton administration has blamed the Hizbul Mujhaideen for frustrating attempts to bring peace to Kashmir and questioned the rationale behind the militant group insisting on Pakistan being included in its talks with the Indian government.
"It's not helpful for the Hizbul Mujahideen to insist on a new condition after the ceasefire and offer of dialogue was announced and accepted by India; specifically, the August 8th deadline for tripartite talks, including Pakistan, was added afterwards, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday.
He however added that the US believed there could be no solution to the Kashmir issue without direct discussions between India and Pakistan.
For such discussions to take place, however, a climate of trust must be created through sincere efforts to end the violence and, of course, taking the wishes of the Kashmiri people into account," he said.
On the Hizbul Mujahideen's announcement to terminate the ceasefire, the spokesman said, "We deeply regret the decision to end this cease-fire.
"We saw their announcement, and the offer of talks with India without pre-conditions as a real window of opportunity to start a process towards peace in war-weary Kashmir." He said the Hizbul Mujahideen-Indian dialogue was simply not given enough time.
Asked about his remark that there could be no solution to the Kashmir dispute without talks between India and Pakistan, Boucher said that there was value in the discussions between the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Indian government and that the US urged its resumption.
"We also believe more broadly that there needs to be direct discussions between India and Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir... to find a solution there. For those kinds of discussions to take place, there needs to be a climate of trust created through sincere efforts to end the violence, and to take into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people," Boucher said.
One reporter pointed out that India claimed that the Kashmir issue was an internal matter and that Pakistan should not be a party to it. Boucher said he hadn't "invited them in" but had just said that in the end, direct discussions between India and Pakistan would be required.
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