US should encourage back channel diplomacy on Kashmir: Mullen | india | Hindustan Times
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US should encourage back channel diplomacy on Kashmir: Mullen

india Updated: Feb 03, 2010 16:28 IST
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Asserting that improved Indo-Pak relationship is key to success of the US war against terror in the Af-Pak region, top American military commander Admiral Mike Mullen has said the Obama Administration should encourage back channel talks between the two countries on Kashmir.

"As part of our long-term regional approach, we should welcome all steps these important nations (India and Pakistan) take to regenerate their 'back channel' process on Kashmir," Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prepared testimony before the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mullen, who made a joint appearance with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates before the committee on Tuesday, told US Senators that the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the epicentre of global terrorism.

"This is where al-Qaeda plans terrorist attacks against the US and our partners — and from where the Taliban leadership targets coalition troops in Afghanistan," he said.

Pakistan's ongoing military operations against extremists in these areas are critical to preventing al-Qaeda and associated groups from gaining ground, Mullen noted.

"In Pakistan, the extremist threat, a fractious political system, economic weakness and long-standing tensions with India continue to threaten stability," Mullen said, adding the Obama Administration is working to rebuild its relationship with Pakistan and re-establish trust lost between the two countries.