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India, Pakistan making progress on J&K: US

The US has said that India and Pakistan were making good progress on the Kashmir issue.
None | By Asian News International, Washington
UPDATED ON MAR 21, 2006 02:11 PM IST

The US has said that India and Pakistan were making good progress on the Kashmir issue.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, Richard Boucher, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia said that New Delhi and Islamabad had made some visible progress on the contentious issue and were taking forward the Composite Dialogue process in a very careful manner.

"You've seen some really good progress between India and Pakistan in the composite dialogue including on the aspect of  Kashmir," said Boucher.

"They've had now confidence building measures--started bus lines, railroads,  people  back and forth in a way that they  never  had before,  and each of them has stepped forward with I  think  some new  ideas,  some  new thoughts, some new contacts  in  terms  of political  parties  and the interest of  different  groups  in-in Kashmir, so there's a fair amount of thinking going on -- new ideas coming forth and -- and new steps being taken and that's good,"  he said.

"They've--they've got a flow of people and goods back and forth; that can always be expanded and confidence building measures can be expanded,  but  they're  also setting up now  a  new  set  of discussions  and the whole composite dialogue  including  Kashmir and  that's important that they just keep at it  because  they've been  doing the right thing and we want to see them keep at  it," he added.

On being asked about the option of self-governance, that has been touted  as a probable solution to the issue, Boucher said he  did not want to focus on individual ideas.

He said  that the US viewed its role in the Kashmir  dispute  as that of a friend for both countries. The issue was bilateral and had to be solved by India and Pakistan only.

"Well I think our--our role is kind of a friend to both sides. We're  friends  of  the Indians, friends  with  the  Pakistanis--welcoming  the  steps  they've taken,  encouraging  the  progress they're  trying to make, and I think in terms of  specific  steps that  they're doing the right thing. Both sides see the US as a friend; there are different views about what--whether we should be involved or not. I think to the extent we define our involvement with both sides as friends, as encouragement, as interested--interested outsiders but leave the work to them--I think that's the right way to go," he said.

He said the US was monitoring the "war of words" between Kabul and Islamabad adding that though there might be some differences over the two, fundamentally there was co-operation between them.

"We have been in touch with both the Pakistani government and the Afghan  government  at various levels about the sort  of  war  of words that's going on. This flares up from time to time; they're obviously both in a delicate situation and face the same kind of threats on their borders and so there are statements made  from time to time but fundamentally there's a basis for cooperation. I think there is cooperation there," he said.

"There's cooperation on the--the anti-terrorist problem that they both face in that area; there's cooperation on the economic development of that area and we've announced some new  steps  to get them together to work on opportunity zones there and  there's cooperation  really on the border management side of things,"  he added.

"So we--we think there's plenty of ground for cooperation.  We'll try to work with them in the very practical ways--kind of tone down the rhetoric and--and get to work on the problems we all face there," he said.

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