President George W. Bush on Friday tacitly but emphatically ruled out a US-led initiative to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
"The United States can't force nations to reach an agreement,” he said, adding, "Lasting agreements occur when leaders of nations say: 'Let's get the past behind us and let's move forward'."
In reply to a question at a joint press conference with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Bush said the US wants to help, but stressed that it was for India and Pakistan to deal with the matter.
The White House meeting took place in the backdrop of a rare public face-off, with Bush threatening to send US forces into Pakistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and Musharraf saying Islamabad was competent to handle the job.
Bush said he was encouraged by the recent meeting between Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Havana. "It's an indication that there is a desire at the leadership level to solve this long-standing problem," he added.
The president said: "I asked the President, just like I would ask the Prime Minister of India, what can we do to help? What would you like United States to do to facilitate an agreement? How can we help? And that's the role of the United States as far as I am concerned."