US urges India-Pakistan dialogue to reduce Kashmir tensions

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 13, 2015 2:33 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday urged India and Pakistan to move their relationship forward through dialogue, saying the U.S. was concerned about recent violence along their disputed border.

Kerry's comments came during a press conference in Islamabad Tuesday with the Pakistani prime minister's foreign policy adviser, Sartaj Aziz.

The disputed Kashmir region has been a source of sharp tension between Pakistan and India since they both became independent in 1947. Two of the three wars they have fought have been about Kashmir, a region they both claim. Tensions spiked in late December and early January with both sides accusing the other of firing across the de-facto border that separates the two sides of Kashmir.

Thousands of villagers in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir fled their homes, and at least a dozen people were killed.

"We continue to be deeply concerned by the recent spate of increased violence," Kerry said. "It is profoundly in the interests of Pakistan and India to move this relationship forward."

But Aziz appeared in no mood for such a step.

He accused India of wanting to have talks only on its own terms and asked the U.S. to push the Indian side on the matter.

India and Pakistan agreed to resume talks on improved relations in May when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But an announcement by Pakistan's ambassador to India to meet with Kashmiri separatists in New Delhi angered India and it called off the talks.

Aziz said Tuesday that India's cancellation of the talks and recent incidents of "unprovoked" firing by India "are a source of serious concern to us" and "a signal that India wants to de-emphasize a serious discussion on Kashmir."

"We hope that the United States ... can prevail upon India to work with Pakistan on regional peace and economic prosperity," he said.

__

Associated Press reporter Rebecca Santana contributed to this report.