Normalization of ties between Pakistan, India vital for region: US State Dept. Spokesaman

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WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (APP): Normalization of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to the region, U.S. State Department said on Tuesday, urging the two countries to work together to resolve issues between them and to counter the common threat of terrorism.
At a daily briefing, US State Department spokesman John Kirby, when asked to comment on the visit by the India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Islamabad, welcomed the high-level meetings between the two countries.

“We support any and all positive steps India and Pakistan can take to reduce the tensions, to engage in dialogue, forge closer relations,” the Spokesman said.”The normalization of relations between those two countries is vital not only to them but to the region.”
He said the United States once again encourage this kind of dialogue and added that these are the issues that are best worked out by the two of them.

Responding to a question, Spokesman Kirby said that the United States was not running or convening any talks between the two countries with respect to counter-terrorism.”We strongly and still believe that the best solution is for the two countries to work out these issues together. These are common threats they both face.”

The spokesman said that the United States views the terrorist threat in that part of the world to be one shared by everybody, including the United States.

“But specifically between India and Pakistan, we continue to believe that this is these are issues which, frankly, should encourage both sides to continue to want to work closer and stronger together bilaterally to solve it, because it is a common threat to both of them,” he added.

The spokesman said that the US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Islamabad to attend the Heart of Asia ministerial meeting, and added that the United States was grateful that Pakistan was holding this very important summit.

“It’s an opportunity for the U.S. and all participating countries to discuss our shared commitment to a stable, peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.
An earlier statement by the State Department said that Secretary Blinken will also meet with senior Pakistani officials to follow up on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United States in October to discuss ways to enhance our multidimensional relationship.

The Deputy Secretary will also give remarks at an event highlighting our partnership with Pakistan on providing educational opportunities for Pakistanis, especially for girls.
Pakistan is hosting the Fifth Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Islamabad on December 9. The Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey.

The main objective of the Process is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promoting long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan, and the region.

According to the Pakistan’s Foreign Office, the Fifth Ministerial Conference is expected to adopt a forward looking Islamabad Declaration entitled “Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region”.