US in diplomatic effort to reduce tensions over Kashmir

US in diplomatic effort to reduce tensions over Kashmir
Daily Times, April 3, 2009

WASHINGTON: The United States has launched a diplomatic effort to ease tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, in order to allow Islamabad to focus more effectively on fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban on its western border with Afghanistan, top American defence officials said. Democrat Senator Mark Udall from Colorado raised the issue at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, asking a panel of senior US defence officials if Washington is in discussion on “urging India and Pakistan to continue finding a way forward on Kashmir”. "Together with my great diplomatic wing man (special representative for the region) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, this effort actually has started," US Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus said. He did not name Kashmir in his response but argued that calming tensions between the two South Asian nuclear neighbours would be of “enormous importance” to the fight against violent extremists. Petraeus said more recently the Pakistan-India standoff in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks diverted Islamabad's attention at a time when its forces were engaged in focused anti-terrorism operations in Bajaur and other tribal regions. Michele Flournoy, the under-secretary of defence and one of the architects of the Obama administration's policy toward the region, called the issue of scaling down Pakistan-India tensions as “a really critical matter”. "This is the issue – one of the issues that really drives a more regional approach in our strategy – that part of helping Pakistan to shift its attention and its resources and its efforts is reducing the tensions it has with India." app

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