Washington to ‘encourage’ Pak-India ‘high-level discussions’

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WASHINGTON: As Indian and Pakistani prime ministers prepare to meet, the United States has said it will welcome “any and all high-level discussions” between the two countries. Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh are slated to meet in New York later this month while attending the UN General Assembly. The two leaders will also have separate meetings with US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Mr Singh, Mr Karzai and President Obama are also scheduled to have a trilateral meeting amid hopes that these high-level contacts would reduce tensions in the South Asian region and allow for a smooth withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014.

“We will encourage and have encouraged further dialogue between India and Pakistan on a range of issues. We would welcome any and all high-level discussions,” US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told a briefing in Washington.

She said US ambassadors in Islamabad and New Delhi had conveyed Washington’s views on these high-level talks to the two governments and would continue to do so.

“I’m not going to get into the details of what those discussions might look like. That’s for India and Pakistan to talk about together,” said Ms Harf when asked if the US would like those leaders also to discuss the issue of terrorism.