New Delhi: The US wants India and Pakistan to resume peace talks, but would leave it to the two countries to decide the way forward, a US official said on Thursday.
“The scope and the character of that dialogue is something for Indian and Pakistani leaders to decide on how and when to approach that dialogue,” undersecretary of state William Burns told a news conference after talks with leaders here.
India has “paused” a slow-moving peace process with Pakistan after 10 gunmen killed at least 183 people last November in Mumbai.
Security issues: US undersecretary of state William Burns (left) meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Thursday. Gurinder Osan / AP
New Delhi says the three-day attack was carried out by Pakistan-based militants who must also have had the backing of some official Pakistani agencies, which Islamabad denies.
“United States has always welcomed a dialogue between India and Pakistan and welcomed better relations between those two countries,” Burns said, shortly after meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Singh earlier this week said he was ready to meet Pakistan “more than half-way” if Pakistan cracked down on militants.
Islamabad has welcomed Singh’s comments.
Burns said the US shared India’s security concerns and wanted Pakistan to act strongly against militant groups operating from there.
“That’s in everyone’s interest and everyone’s interest is committed to stability in this region,” Burns said.
He said Pakistan faced a serious challenge and was making progress in the campaign against the Taliban in Swat valley.
Burns, who is on a four-day trip to India, said he was hopeful that India and the US would expand defence ties.
The two countries are discussing ways to resolve a row over a clause that allows US inspectors to monitor arms it sells to New Delhi, a major obstacle for US companies bidding for a $10.4 billion fighter jet contract, that is the world’s biggest current arms deals.
India has not yet agreed to the US clause of “end-use monitoring” under which the US reserves a right to make sure arms sold abroad are used for their intended purpose and the technology does not leak to a third nation.
The new government is also expected to move forward on a military logistics deal with the US that would help US operations in the region.