US has no role in India, Pakistan counter-terror talks

Washington, Dec 9 (IANS) While welcoming talks between Indian and Pakistani officials as positive steps, the US has ruled out convening any talks on counter-terrorism between the two countries as issues between them are best worked out by themselves.

“Well, the short answer is no,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Tuesday when asked if the US was playing any role in any engagement between New Delhi and Islamabad or to bring terrorists wanted by India from Pakistan.

“We’re not running any or convening any talks between India and Pakistan with respect to counterterrorism,” he said. “We strongly and still believe that the best solution is for the two countries to work out these issues together.”

“These are common threats they both face, so I’m not aware of any effort by the United States to lead or convene some sort of effort,” the spokesperson said.

However, Kirby said, US viewed “the terrorist threat in that part of the world to be one shared by everybody, and including the US, which is why we’ve worked so hard in Afghanistan, which is why we still work so hard on a relationship with Pakistan”.

“Because we know that the spying between Afghanistan and Pakistan still remains a safe haven and a real source of sustenance for various terrorist groups, and it’s something we’re going to continue to work at bilaterally, multilaterally in the region.”

“But specifically between India and Pakistan,” Kirby said, “we continue to believe that these are issues which, frankly, should encourage both sides to continue to want to work closer and stronger together bilaterally to solve it, because it is a common threat to both of them.”

Referring to the talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad, he said: “We welcome reports of the meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials.”

“We support any and all positive steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce the tensions, to engage in dialogue, forge closer relations,” he said.

“The normalization of relations between those two countries is vital not only to them but to the region, so we once again encourage this kind of dialogue,” he said.

“These are issues that are best worked out between the two of them by the two of them,” Kirby added.

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