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US nudges India for talks with Pak

US nudges India for talks with Pak

Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 11, 2009

Introduction: Delhi Sticks To Stand, Says Islamabad Not Proactive

Pakistan has done little to address India's concerns about terrorism emanating from its soil, but it's becoming clear that the US is nudging India into resuming the dialogue with Islamabad. US undersecretary of state William Burns, who is on a three-day visit, on Wednesday discussed with foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon the "importance" of the dialogue.

While India has dropped enough hints in the past few weeks that it is willing to walk the extra mile for Pakistan, Menon, said sources, conveyed to Burns that Islamabad does not seem interested in creating conditions conducive for talks. Foreign minister S M Krishna too reiterated on Wednesday evening India's stand that it is willing to talk but only after Pakistan acts against terror.

The sources said Menon tried to convince Burns that while Islamabad may have acted against the Taliban and al-Qaida forces, it has taken only cosmetic steps against groups like LeT and JeM that target India. He cited the way Pakistan soft-pedalled the case against JuD chief and LeT founder Hafiz Saeed leading to his release.

After the long meeting with Menon, Burns called on home minister P Chidambaram and Krishna. He is expected to meet PM Manmohan Singh on Thursday to hand over a personal letter from President Barack Obama before flying to Mumbai.

The US' stand on the talks became clear when state department spokesman Ian Kelly said in Washington even before the visit had started that the US would support more dialogue between the two countries. "I am sure that undersecretary Burns will talk about this issue among the many issues that he has on his agenda," said Kelly.

Burns told his hosts that India was a foreign policy priority for the Obama administration. He said he had come with a "straight forward message" from secretary of state Hillary Clinton that India was a priority nation. "I am convinced that there is a great deal we can do together," said Burns, who is preparing the ground for Clinton's visit to India late next month. During the talks, the US Af-Pak policy also came up and India India expressed reservations over more US aid to Pakistan. The situation in neighbouring Sri Lanka and Nepal was also discussed. Burns said the US believed that India would be its crucial global partner in the 21st century and that a strong foundation for bilateral relations had already been laid for it.

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