US asks India, Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue to reduce tensions

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Washington, April 8 (IANS) As Pakistan’s envoy to New Delhi announced that the bilateral peace process has been “suspended”, the Obama administration has asked India and Pakistan to engage in “direct dialogue that is aimed at reducing tensions”.

US State Department Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner, in his briefing on Thursday, said in answer to a question about the suspension of peace talks: “The peace process, we believe and it’s been our longstanding position that India and Pakistan stand to benefit from the normalization of relations and practical cooperation, and we encourage them to do so, to engage in direct dialogue that’s aimed at reducing tensions between the two governments and two countries.

“And we strongly support those efforts, because we believe it, obviously, will lead to greater stability and peace in the region and is to the benefit of both countries,” he said.

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In New Delhi, Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit said at an event that the “peace process has been suspended” between both neighbours.

Toner declined to answer a question on the arrest in Pakistan of an alleged Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav.

“I am aware of the reports about the arrest. I don’t have anything … any details of the arrest,” he said.

Toner also declined to comment on a question on Kashmir.

“Look, our policy regarding Kashmir has not changed. As we’ve long said, the pace, scope, and character of those discussions or any discussions on Kashmir must be for the two sides to determine. We support any and all positive steps that India and Pakistan can take to forge closer relations,” the State Department spokesperson said.

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