External Affairs

India and Pakistan Stand to Benefit from Dialogue: US

Mark C. Toner, addressing the media. Credit: Reuters

Mark C. Toner, addressing the media. Credit: Reuters

Mark C. Toner, deputy spokesperson for the US state department, said on September 26 that despite the several issues that India and Pakistan have, especially over Kashmir, both countries stand to benefit from dialogue.

In the UN General Assembly meet last week, India attacked Pakistan over Balochistan and Pakistan brought up the Kashmir issue. When Toner was asked at a daily press briefing, what the assessment of the US was on Indo-Pak relations, he said, “I think our longstanding position is that we believe India and Pakistan really stand to benefit from the normalisation of relations between them and practical cooperation between them and we encourage both India and Pakistan to pursue and engage in direct dialogue that is aimed at reducing tensions.”

Speaking of Indo-US ties, Toner said that Russia’s joint military exercises with Pakistan was not a response to India’s joint military exercises with the US. Denying that there was “some kind of tit-for-tat or Great Game being played out”, he said that the US had been pursuing close trade and economic relations with India for a while and he believed that the US and India shared similar visions of the world, which extended to cooperation with regard to security.

Toner said, “We want to see Pakistan better able to respond to the threat that terrorism poses both domestically for Pakistan but also the fact that there are terrorist groups on – that seek refuge or asylum or shelter in Pakistan’s territory.”

Responding to questions about whether or not he thought Pakistan was a state that sponsored terrorism, Toner said, “We do believe that they’re making progress, that they’re taking steps to counter terrorist violence, but at the same time we’ve been very clear that they need to target all militant groups, including those that target Pakistan’s neighbours, and close all safe havens.”