US asks Pakistan, India to improve bilateral relations

*State Department calls cancellation of sec-level talks as unfortunate *No change on Kashmir policy

WASHINGTON – The United States has termed as unfortunate the cancellation of planned foreign secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India.

State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said it was unfortunate that planned talks between Pakistan and India have fallen through. She said the United States continues to support efforts by Pakistan and India to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations, and it will continue making this clear to both parties.

Asked to comment on New Delhi's assertion that Pakistan has to choose between talks with Delhi or with the Hurriyat Conference leaders in Kashmir, the deputy spokesperson said irrespective of why the talks were cancelled, it was necessary that both sides take steps to improve their bilateral relations.

To a question whether any official from the US reached out to Delhi and Islamabad on the issue, she guessed that their staff on the ground have been in touch with both the governments. She said there were a lot of issues on the table, there were a lot of emotions involved but what need to happen now was additional steps.

To another question, the deputy spokesperson said that the US believe that pace, scope and character of any discussion on Kashmir were for Pakistan and India to determine between them. She said that the US policy on Kashmir has not changed.

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