US Calls Cancelation of Indo-Pak Talks “Unfortunate”

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf

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Washington, DC – The United States on Monday called the cancellation of scheduled August 25 talks at the Foreign Secretary-level between India and Pakistan as “unfortunate” while reiterating that the dispute over Kashmir is a bilateral issue.

Answering a question during regular briefing, the US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said, “It is unfortunate that planned talks between India and Pakistan have fallen through,” adding, “We continue to support efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and that is a position we will continue making clear to both parties here.”

Earlier, the Government of India called off the bilateral talks following the renewed incidents at the border and the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit’s meetings with Hurriyat representatives from Jammu & Kashmir prior to the foreign secretary-level talks. New Delhi asked Islamabad to choose between a governmental bilateral dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists.

Asked to further comment on the reasons, Harf told journalists, “I think irrespective of why either side says the talks were canceled, or why in fact they were canceled, what matters now is that both sides take steps to improve their bilateral relations,” stressing, “We’ve been very clear about that directly in conversations with both.”

Harf also noted no change in the US policy on Kashmir, saying, “We continue to believe that the pace and the scope and character of any discussions on Kashmir are for India and Pakistan to determine between them. That hasn’t changed and that will remain our position going forward.”

The hardline Indian stand was evident when newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed army officers and soldiers in the frontier Ladakh region bordering China and Pakistan, Modi said that “the neighboring country has lost the strength to fight a conventional war but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism.” Modi’s criticism of Islamabad had come against the backdrop of reported cease-fire violations by Pakistani troops on the border and increased militant attacks in Kashmir.

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