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Subtle shift in US stand on Kashmir People's view on Burns lips

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 11.06.09
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New Delhi, June 11: The US today said India should seek to resolve the Kashmir issue with Pakistan after taking into account the views of the people of the state, emphatically re-stating a position that had been diluted during the years of the Bush administration.

Officials in New Delhi were quick to read in the US position an effort to goad India into talks with Pakistan.

“It remains our view that the resolution (of Kashmir by India and Pakistan) will have to take into account the views of the Kashmiri people,” visiting US undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns said.

The US administration has held this view for years. But during the Republican Bush regime, it was not articulated as emphatically as Burns did today, officials said.

“The US appears to have pulled this old position out of the cupboard,” a senior official added. “When the insurgency (in Kashmir) began in 1989-1990, they (the US) had spoken of the ‘will of the people’.”

Over the last eight years, India had a more patient understanding in Washington that terrorism could not be linked to the issue of Kashmir. But India is now being persuaded to re-start talks with Pakistan that it had put on hold after last November’s Mumbai strike.

“This (the US stand) could be part of the needling process to resume talks. A travel advisory discouraging Americans to visit India was also probably part of that effort,” the official said.

Burns said the US wanted India and Pakistan to resume peace talks. “The United States has always welcomed a dialogue between India and Pakistan,” he said.

“The scope and the character of that dialogue is something for Indian and Pakistani leaders to decide on how and when to approach that dialogue,” he added.

Burns met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The US official said the question of talks with Pakistan came up in many of the discussions. He pointed to the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament earlier this week that he was eager to have neighbourly relations with Pakistan but it was important for Islamabad to crack down on terror elements.

PC on Valley forces

Home minister P. Chidambaram said in Srinagar on Thursday that he favoured a secondary role for the central paramilitary forces in maintaining law and order in Jammu and Kashmir. The home minister’s visit came amid protests over the rape and murder of two women in Shopian, south Kashmir, for which security forces are in the glare.