US peace talks: India snubs while Pak accepts

US peace talks: India snubs while Pak accepts
US peace talks: India snubs while Pak accepts. Photo: Twitter.

Washington DC, US, April 5: Pakistan welcomed the US offer to help de-escalate tensions between India and Pakistan, while India rejected it. India has consistently ruled out third party mediation, including by the UN or the US. Reportedly, the US State Department has restructured the offer in order to facilitate talks to accommodate both.

“Any positive role that the US plays to bring peace and stability in South Asia can serve the region well,” said Pakistan’s Washington envoy Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, hours after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, made the offer.

“It’s absolutely right that this administration is concerned about the relationship between India and Pakistan and very much wants to see how we de-escalate any sort of conflict going forward,” she said while speaking at a press conference in New York on Monday after the US has taken charge of the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of April.

Ambassador Haley, who is of Indian ancestry, also said that the Trump administration would participate in the talks intended at resolving differences between India and Pakistan.

“I would expect that the administration is going to be in talks and try and find its place to be a part of that because it’s concerned about the situation,” she said.

A State Department spokesperson said that “We believe India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation. We encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions”.

The US official also described why Washington wanted to encourage good neighbourly associations between India and Pakistan. “The normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to both countries and the region. Steps that initiate closer regional economic ties can also create jobs, lower inflation and increase energy supply,” the official opined.

 “We have and continue to support India and Pakistan to work together to settle any differences,” the US official said. India has consistently ruled out third party mediation, including by the UN or the US.

Pakistan, however, welcomed international mediation and regularly raises the Kashmir issue at different UN fora. Islamabad also encourages the US and the UN to help resolve its disputes with India.

On Tuesday, Gopal Baglay, a spokesman for the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, snubbed Ambassador Haley for indicating that Washington was ready to mediate.

“The government’s position for bilateral redressal of all India-Pakistan issues in an environment free of terror and violence hasn’t changed,” he said, although in the same statement he also asked the international community to persuade Pakistan to stop alleged cross-border terrorist attacks from its soil.

“We, of course, expect the international community and organisations to enforce international mechanisms and mandates concerning terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which continues to be the single biggest threat to peace and stability in our region and beyond,” he said.

The US official told the PTI news agency that the alleged presence of terror safe havens in Pakistan, aggressive Chinese behaviour and the Afghanistan situation dominated last month’s meeting between US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

This was the highest-level interaction of the new US defence secretary with India. The US official, who works for the Department of Defence, said Pakistan and Afghanistan were the two major topics of discussion between the two leaders.

 The US would like to see Pakistan in a situation with it where they could have a productive relationship, the official added. Secretary Mattis “recognises the important role that it plays in the region and the world and its unique position vis-a-vis Pakistan, vis-a-vis China,” the official said.

Doval began a five-day visit to Washington on March 20, during which he also met the Homeland Security Secretary Gen John Kelly and US National Security Adviser Lt Gen H.R. McMaster.

Haley took over the monthly rotating presidency of the UN Security Council on April 1, and has declared that her focus for the next month will be peacekeeping reform and human rights.