The United States wants ‘direct dialogue’ between India and Pakistan on ‘issues of concern’

Published : April 07, 2021 14:59 IST

Ned Price, U.S. State Department spokesman, takes questions from reporters at the State Department in Washington, U.S., on March 31. Photo: REUTERS

At a time when the Pakistan government has red-flagged the resumption of imports from India, the United States State Department said on April 6 that it encouraged a direct dialogue between the two neighbouring countries on issues of concern.

The U.S. State Department, however, avoided commenting on the decision of the Pakistan government to not resume trade with India. “I wouldn’t want to comment on that specifically,” said Ned Price, State Department spokesperson, at his daily news conference.

He stressed the importance of dialogue in resolving long-standing bilateral issues between India and Paksitan. “What I would say is that we continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on issues of concern,” he said in response to a question.

n a major U-turn, the federal Cabinet of Pakistan on April 1 overturned the proposal of a high-powered committee to import cotton and sugar from India. Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, said that until India reversed its unilateral decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, there could be no normalisation of ties between the two countries.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi later briefed the press: “A perception was emerging that relations with India have moved towards normalisation and trade has been opened. There was an exchange of thoughts on this and there was a unanimous opinion on this and it was the Prime Minister’s [opinion] as well that as long as India does not review the unilateral steps it took on August 5, 2019, normalising relations with India will not be possible.”

Trade between the two countries deteriorated after India withdrew the Most Favoured Nation status to Pakistan following the Pulwama attack in February 2019 in which 40 Indian soldiers were killed.

In August 2019, after India unilaterally withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended bilateral trade with India.

India and Pakistan had in February announced a ceasefire along the LoC and all other sectors. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan later exchanged letters, emphasising the imperative to build peace so that South Asian countries could access the resources-rich Central Asian region. Both countries have put the onus of building an enabling environment on each other.

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