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US presses Pak to stop India infiltration, try 26/11 suspects

world Updated: Jun 09, 2010 11:19 IST

Underlining its hands off policy on the Kashmir issue, the US has asked Pakistan to first show progress in stopping cross-border infiltration into India and the trial of the Mumbai terror attack suspects.

"No, there's no change right now" in US policy on Kashmir, US assistant secretary of state for South Asia, Robert Blake said in an online conversation Tuesday with Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia Programme at Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank.

"I think at this point the top priority for India and Pakistan is, first, to kind of get their own bilateral dialogue going in a more systematic way," he said noting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "is personally and deeply committed to achieving peace with Pakistan".

"But he needs to see progress on these two important issues... that is, progress to stop some of the cross-border infiltration that's taking place into India, but also progress on the trial of the Mumbai suspects.

"And if we can see that, I think that there will be a flourishing of the dialogue that could take place. But those are very important things that need to take place."

He agreed with Schaffer that the main interest of the United States is that they be able to agree on something that makes the risk of a war that could go nuclear disappear.

Nothing that "from 2004 to 2007, in fact, the two countries did make quite a lot of progress on Kashmir", Blake said: "And that, again, could be picked up, I think, relatively quickly if they can sort out some of these other issues."

"This is going to have to be a kind of incremental process to build up to that stage where they can tackle this very hot button issue (Kashmir) for both of those countries."

At the State Department, spokesperson Phillip J. Crowley too made a similar point. Asked to comment on Manmohan Singh's offer to open peace talks with the separatist and extremist elements in Kasshmir, he said: "All I would say is that we recognise that this is a very, very important issue between India and Pakistan."

"And as the dialogue between India and Pakistan continues to expand, including at the leader level, that we would hope that India and Pakistan can make progress in understanding this issue and moving forward, just as they did a few years ago."