Washington: Describing the cancellation of next week's Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as "unfortunate", the US today said what matters now is that both the countries take steps to improve bilateral ties.
"It is unfortunate that planned talks between India and Pakistan have fallen through," US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.
"We continue to support efforts by India and Pakistan to improve all aspects of their bilateral relations. And that is a position we will continue making clear to both parties here," she said in response to a question.
India today called off the talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries scheduled to be held in Islamabad on 25 August, telling Pakistan bluntly to choose between an Indo-Pak dialogue or hobnobbing with the separatists. India cancelled the talks, raising strong objections to consultations held with separatist Hurriyat leaders by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit.
Pakistan described the cancellation of the talks as a "setback" to Indo-Pak ties and defended its consultations with Kashmiri separatists, saying it was a "long-standing practice" to hold such meetings prior to bilateral parleys.
Harf said, "Irrespective of why either side says the talks were canceled, or why, in fact, they were canceled, what matters now is that both sides take steps to improve their bilateral relations. We've been very clear about that directly in conversations with both."
Harf asserted that the US policy on Kashmir has not changed.
"We continue to believe that the pace and the scope and character of any discussions on Kashmir are for India and Pakistan to determine between them. That hasn't changed and that will remain our position going forward," she said.
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Updated Date: Aug 19, 2014 12:37:00 IST