Image Source : PTI (FILE) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif.

Washington: The United States on Monday opted out of intervening in relations between India and Pakistan vis-a-vis terrorism, saying it welcomes any country that opposes terrorism but the matter remains ultimately between the two neighbouring countries. Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesperson for the US State Department, said Washington welcomes any countries making more positive relations with their neighbours.

“We would hope that any country on the face of the planet condemns terrorism anywhere, but ultimately this is between India and Pakistan. Broadly, of course, we welcome any countries making more positive relations with their neighbour,” Patel said during a regular press briefing. He was responding to a question on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on a good relationship with Pakistan while underscoring that terrorism and talks and terrorism can’t go together.

Patel was asked where the US stand as a triangle in relations between India and Pakistan. Earlier, the US State Department said it wants India and Pakistan to have a “productive and peaceful relationship” but made it clear that the pace, scope, and character of any dialogue was a matter for the two neighbours to determine. The relations between India and Pakistan nosedived after the Centre revoked Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan’s positive message to India

Recently,  Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar sent a “positive message” to India, by saying his country does not believe in “perpetual hostility” and urged the new government in New Delhi to do a “sober reflection” on its future ties with Islamabad. “We seek good neighbourly relations with India on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality, and a just and peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Dar said.

Pakistan will also take every step needed to maintain strategic stability in South Asia and would respond effectively and decisively to any ill-considered military misadventure by India, he said. Dar also urged the BJP-led government to have a reflection of ties with Pakistan. “Rather than fight with each other, it would be prudent for the South Asian nations to combat these challenges. We are not only the least economically integrated region, but also one with the lowest rankings on almost all indices of human development,” the minister said.

It is worth mentioning Pakistan downgraded its ties with India after the Indian Parliament suspended Article 370 on August 5, 2019, a decision that Islamabad believed undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbours. India has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment that is free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.

Deepening relations with India in several areas: US

Meanwhile, Patel said the US is deepening its relationship with India in key spaces, particularly in economic ties and security cooperation. “The President had the opportunity briefly see Prime Minister Modi on the margins of the G7 a couple of weeks ago. So this is an area we will continue to cultivate this relationship,” he added.

Last month, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday commended growing ties between America and India, saying that they are based on a common vision and common values and the momentum in the relationship is not only going to continue but will pick up speed. Officials from the Pentagon earlier told lawmakers that the relationship between India and the United States has been growing and is stronger than it has ever been, even though some expressed doubts due to New Delhi’s ties with Russia.

(with inputs from agency)

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