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Obama refuses mediation on Kashmir; favours Indo-Pak dialogue

June 20, 2009 09:44 IST
Ruling out any American mediation on the Kashmir issue, US President Barack Obama has said dialogue is the best way to reduce tension between India and Pakistan. "I believe that there are opportunities, maybe not starting with Kashmir but starting with other issues, that Pakistan and India can be in a dialogue together and over time to try to reduce tensions and find areas of common interest," Obama told Pakistan's Dawn TV in an interview.
 
The answer from Obama came in response to a question as why his Administration has been silent on Kashmir, after he initially mentioned it. "Well, I don't think that we have been silent on the fact that India is a great friend of the United States and Pakistan is a great friend of the United States, and it always grieves us to see friends fighting. And we can't dictate to
Pakistan or India how they should resolve their differences, but we know that both countries would prosper if those differences are resolved," Obama said.

Categorically ruling out any mediation between India and Pakistan, Obama said: "We want to be helpful in that process, but I don't think it's appropriate for us to be the mediators in that process. I think that this is something that the Pakistanis and Indians can take leadership on." 

 
When asked, if has asked India to resume dialogue with Pakistan, Obama said: "Well, what we have said is that we think that all of South Asia would benefit by reduced tensions between India and Pakistan."  Obama had recently sent a letter to the Prime Minister, which was delivered by the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, William Burns.
 
"I think that dialogue is the best way to reduce tensions. And so, you know, we're hopeful that Prime Minister Singh and President Zardari -- they recently had an opportunity to meet briefly. It wasn't an extensive conversation but it was the start of what may end up being more productive conversations in the future," Obama underlined.
Lalit K Jha in Washington
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