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US not to mediate on Kashmir
Washington, Feb 4 (IANS):
Published on 5 Feb. 2010 12:17 AM IST
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The US has stated it will not mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue but would ‘applaud and encourage’ anything they do to reduce tensions or improve bilateral relations. ‘On the specific you talked about, we are not going to negotiate or mediate on that issue and I’m going to try to keep my record and not even mention it by name,’ Richard Holbrooke, special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters Wednesday. Holbrooke, whose portfolio does not include India, set out the US position when asked to comment about reported remarks of Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, about the need for India and Pakistan restarting back-channel diplomacy on their Kashmir dispute. ‘But I want to be clear, that anything that the two countries do to reduce tensions or improve relations will be something we would applaud and encourage, but we are not going to act as intermediaries between Islamabad and New Delhi,’ he said. Holbrooke also made it clear that he was not talking about himself but setting out the US position. ‘That is not what we are here to do. I’m not just talking about myself.’ India and Pakistan dispute the ownership of Jammu and Kashmir and control parts of the state. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting Islamist separatists in Jammu and Kashmir. Asked to give his take on the evolving role of India in Afghanistan, the envoy acknowledged that as the largest country in the region, India has ‘a legitimate series of security interests’. ‘India is part of the region, the largest country in the region. And although I have no responsibility for US-Indian relations, because of their great importance in these issues I go to New Delhi as often as I can,’ Holbrooke said. ‘I was there two weeks ago. I look forward to seeing Indian officials at the Munich Security Conference the day after tomorrow. And there were Indians represented at the talks in London with whom I spoke,’ he said referring to the Jan 28 London Conference on Afghanistan. ‘The Indians have a legitimate series of security interests in that region, as do a number of other countries including, of course, Pakistan, China and all the other countries that neighbor on Afghanistan. ‘And any search for a resolution of the war in Afghanistan requires that the legitimate security interests of every country be understood and taken into account,’ he said. ‘The dilemma arises when those security interests tend to be in conflict,’ Holbrooke said. ‘Afghanistan has suffered throughout history by the fact that it has sometimes become the terrain for surrogate struggles for power. ‘We do not want to see that happen,’ he said expressing the hope ‘that that will be something we can continue to work on.’

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