Without naming Kashmir, top US officials said the Obama Administration has already begun diplomatic efforts to reduce tension in Indo-Pak relations over the issue which they feel is key factor for their success in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Together with my great diplomatic wing man, (Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, this effort actually has started," General David H Petraeus said testifying before the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from Senator Mark Udall on efforts being done by the Obama Administration to reduce the tension between the two nations specially on the issue of Kashmir.
"... Much of Pakistan's focus is to the east, into Kashmir. And is there any discussion about urging India and Pakistan to continue finding a way forward on Kashmir?" Udall asked the three top military and defense officials called by the committee to testify before it on the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Besides General Petraeus, the other two officials were Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michaele A Flournoy and Admiral Eric T Oloson, head of US Special Operations Command. While answer of the three officials was in affirmative but none of them used the K-word in their response.
The comments came hours before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with President Obama in London.
Giving a sense of initial efforts being undertaken by the Obama Administration, General Petraeus said: "I met, together with him (Holbrooke), with the Indian National Security Adviser, for example, in Munich. We had a very, what we thought was a very good discussion. That was followed up when the Foreign Minister of India (sic) came to Washington more recently."
The Indian Foreign Secretary, Shivshankar Menon, had recently visited Washington and had met General Petraeus at the Pentagon.
"It would be of enormous importance were the tensions to be reduced sufficiently between the two countries to where intellectually, as well as physically, Pakistan could focus more on what we, again, see as a much more important existential threat to Pakistan in the internal extremists than continuing to have that massive face-off against India to their east," Petraeus said.
In her reply, Flournoy said Senator Udall had put his finger on a really critical matter. "This is the issue -- one of the issues that really drives a more regional approach in our strategy -- that part of helping Pakistan to shift its attention and its resources and its efforts is reducing the tensions it has with India," she said.