‘Ties between two countries critical for peace in South Asia’
Lalit K Jha
WASHINGTON – The United States Saturday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to send Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to Islamabad, a move seen as an effort to revive the suspended Indo-Pak talks.
“We believe that India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation and are encouraged that they may resume dialogue aimed at reducing tensions,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.
“The relationship between India and Pakistan is critical to advancing peace and security in south Asia, so we would certainly welcome any resumption of talks between the two countries,” Psaki said.
She was responding to questions on the phone call made by Modi to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif after which New Delhi announced that Jaishankar would soon be travelling to India.
Using cricket diplomacy, Modi called Sharif and other leaders of SAARC nations participating in the ICC Cricket World Cup and conveyed best wishes for the showpiece event.
Thereafter, Modi announced that Jaishankar will undertake a “SAARC yatra” soon to strengthen relationship with them.
The “yatra” will take him to Pakistan with which India broke off foreign secretary-level talks in August last at the eleventh hour because the Pakistan High Commissioner here held consultations with Kashmiri separatists.
Psaki also expressed condolences to the victims of the attack on the mosque in Pakistan’s restive northwest in which at least 20 people were killed and over 50 injured.
“We are saddened by the latest attack on a mosque and extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims. We stand in solidarity with the people and government of Pakistan in confronting this type of extremist violence,” she said.
“The challenge of taking on the threat of terrorism in Pakistan is something that is a big topic of discussion in our bilateral relationship and was one when the secretary was there just a couple of weeks ago. And they have talked about wanting to do more and continuing to do more, and we are willing to and prepared to continue to be a partner in those efforts,” Psaki added. — PTI