The US has welcomed India's proposal for a dialogue with Pakistan, saying cooperation between the two neighbours can only help joint efforts on security in South Asia including fighting terrorism.
"We have always encouraged dialogue between Pakistan and India," State Department spokesman Philip J Crowley told reporters on Thursday while stressing: "Of course, this is a decision for both countries to make on their own."
"But in our various discussions with leaders from Pakistan and India, we have long encouraged them to resume the kind of dialogue that the two countries have had at various times in the past," he said.
Asked how important were improved relations between India and Pakistan for US operations in Afghanistan, Crowley said: "Well, these are two very important countries. They are neighbours. They share a number of important interests - fighting terrorism on the one hand, encouraging trade on the other."
"So, I think if we can - to the degree that India and Pakistan can cooperate - can have peaceful dialogue, can develop opportunities between the countries, that can only help in the broader regional context, including, our joint efforts on security in South Asia," he said.
India has proposed foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan even though it was "not fully satisfied" with the steps Islamabad has taken to dismantle the terror infrastructure on its soil.
Pakistan has accepted the Indian proposal but is also insisting on resumption of the composite dialogue New Delhi suspended the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.