US welcomes Indo-Pak contacts
WASHINGTON: the State Department on Tuesday hoped the peace initiatives by Pakistan and India could lead to “a new beginning of peace in South Asia”.
“We are pleased and encouraged. It is a welcome step forward,” a department official said. He hoped that such contacts would lead to reducing tensions and the beginning of a process of engagement.
“We welcome the news, but caution is probably a wise thing,” he added. Meanwhile, the American Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, is scheduled to visit the region to defuse the tension in South Asia. He is expected to visit Pakistan, India and Afghanistan on May 5.
APHC Optimistic: the former Hurriyat Conference chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, too expressed optimism and said: “It [the phone conversation between the two premiers] is a positive gesture and it will help break the impasse and revitalise the relationship between the two countries. But, talks must go ahead unabated.” “We hope there will be a people-to-people dialogue and the government of India will respond positively. We have always maintained that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved unless both countries come forward for its resolution.” And added: “The Kashmir issue cannot be thrown to the backburner. The talks over all other things including culture, sports and trade ties between the two neighbours can go side by side, but it is Kashmir that has to be the focus of talks.”v The Democratic Freedom Party President, Shabir Ahmad Shah, said the conversation between “the two friends is a good omen and it is hoped that friendship will replace bitterness for good”.—Agencies