20 Oct 2013
Not an ‘iota of change’ on Kashmir policy: US
Washington: The Obama administration today said there has not been an “iota of change” on its policy on Kashmir which considers it a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, dismissing the latest Pakistani efforts to seek US intervention in this regard.
“On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota,” a senior administration official told a group of reporters during a press conference, as Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif started his US tour during which he will meet President Barack Obama.
Earlier in the day, Sharif, who arrived in the US on four-day official visit, hinted at seeking US intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue.
Sharif, in the first visit by a Pakistani Prime Minister to the US in more than five years, is scheduled to meet Obama at the White House on October 23.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior official reiterated the well stated position of the Obama administration that it is for India and Pakistan to determine the “pace, scope and character of their dialogue on Kashmir”.
India has dismissed such a move. Senior administration officials, however, expressed concerns over the terrorism emanating from inside of Pakistan and the impact this could have on the on-going peace talks between India and Pakistan after Sharif was voted to power in May this year.
“Cleary we would be concerned about the terrorist groups that would derail that dialogue process,” the official said. While the focus of the Obama-Sharif meeting would be bilateral relationship, including energy, economy and extremism, in addition to Afghanistan, officials said India would figure in the talks.
“We expect India to come up at some point (during the Obama-Sharif meeting). We have been very encouraged by steps that both India and Pakistan has taken,” the senior administration official said. He listed out the various steps taken by the two countries in this regard, included the recent meeting between the prime ministers of the two nations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
“Obviously (they are) very positive,” the official said adding that the Obama Administration is encouraged by steps the two countries have taken to resolve issues on the trade and energy side, in keeping with the “energy and economy theme” that Obama and Sharif would explore here. The economic relationship, the official said, are particularly important.