US Not Averse to Pakistani Generals Playing Diplomats: State Department

John Kirby, the State Department Spokesman

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Washington, DC – The United States on Wednesday responded ambiguously, thus acknowledging the Pakistani military acting as the national diplomacy team with the US and with India. It said it was “encouraged” to see India and Pakistan revive the stalled dialogue process and wants the two countries to continue the discussions.

Expressing satisfaction over the developments, John Kirby, the State Department Spokesman told journalists, “We would leave it to those countries to determine who’s going to have what meeting and who’s going to sit in on what discussion.”

“We want to see the discussions continue, so we’re encouraged by the recent dialogue between India and Pakistan. It’s exactly what we’ve been strongly trying to encourage,” said Kirby, replying to a question from India America Today.

However, he said it was for the two neighboring countries to decide on the pace and scope for such talks.

“It is for India and Pakistan to bilaterally work out the issues between them and to continue to have a dialogue and to discuss and to reach diplomatic solutions to some of the thorny problems which the two countries still face,” Kirby said.

Further probed about the recent visit of the Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to the US, Kirby said there was nothing new in it. “They’ve been coming to visit counterparts here in the United States for quite some time, as do our military leaders go to Islamabad. Our bilateral relations with Pakistan are important,” Kirby said.

Asked to comment by IAT, if the US endorses military officials instead of democratically elected officials conducting diplomatic talks, Kirby added, “I know they’re going to continue to be important, not just with the military but with the elected officials as well.”

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Tuesday to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan.

Swaraj’s visit came days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.

A joint statement issued after the meeting of the National Security Advisors said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris.

Referring to the talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok and Swaraj’s visit to Islamabad, Kirby said: “We welcome reports of the meeting between Indian and Pakistani officials.” “We support any and all positive steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce the tensions, to engage in dialogue, forge closer relations,” he said.

Earlier, Kirby denied that the US was convening any talks between Pakistan and India on counter-terrorism as issues between them are best worked out by themselves.

“We are not running any or convening any talks between India and Pakistan with respect to counter-terrorism.

We strongly and still believe that the best solution is for the two countries to work out these issues together,” said Kirby.

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