Even as India and Pakistan on Saturday formally called off talks to deescalate tensions, Washington expressed “disappointment”.
“We are disappointed the talks will not happen this weekend and encourage India and Pakistan to resume formal dialogue soon,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told Indian news agency PTI on Saturday.
“We were encouraged by the constructive interaction between the leaders of India and Pakistan earlier this year at Ufa, particularly the announcement of dialogue between the countries’ National Security Advisors,” Mr. Kirby said.
Just hours before the scheduled arrival of the Pakistani National Security Advisor in New Delhi, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj announced in a press conference on Saturday that India is only willing to discuss “terrorism” and not “all-outstanding issues” that Pakistan was pushing for.
Swaraj also warned that the talks were a non-starter if Pakistani officials would hold meetings with Kashmiri separatists. Several insurgent groups have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan.
Pakistan NSA Sartaj Aziz had earlier said he was willing to come to India for talks without any pre-conditions.
“We have come to the conclusion that the proposed NSA level talks between the two countries would not serve any purpose,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The first-ever NSA-level talks was agreed upon in July in the Russian city of Ufa during a meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan on the sidelines of the 7th BRICS Summit.
Tension between the neighbours has risen since the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, called off peace talks in August and clashes along stretches of their border have been erupting intermittently since October last year.
Mistrust between India and Pakistan is a factor behind conflict in various parts of the region, including Afghanistan.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since they won independence from Britain in 1947.
TBP and Agencies