US asks India, Pakistan to engage in talks, de-escalate tensions

State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said America's relationship with India and Pakistan is not a zero sum game.

By: PTI | Washington | Published:September 9, 2016 8:17 am

The US has asked India and Pakistan to engage in peace talks to de-escalate tensions in the region as it appealed to both the countries to maintain
strong, cordial and productive relations. “We strongly encourage in all of our dealings with either India and or Pakistan stronger relations between the two countries. It’s clearly in the security interests of the region that they work to de-escalate tensions and that they have dialogue,” State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters Thursday at his daily news conference.

“That’s something we constantly encourage for just that – or out of just that concern, which is that we don’t want to see tensions escalate, spiral out of control, and lead to some kind of incident,” he said.

“It is important for the two countries, the two governments to maintain strong, cordial, and productive relations,” Toner said in response to a question. The US, he said, wants Pakistan to take more action against terrorist network.

“Our discussions continue to focus on the fact that we’re urging the Government of Pakistan to take concerted action against safe havens and terrorist groups that threaten other countries in the region and we’ve been very clear about that,” he said.

“And we have seen them attempt to address it. We want to see more action taken, but it continues to be a topic of conversation with them,” he added.

Toner said America’s relationship with India and Pakistan is not a zero sum game.

“As we’ve said many times, there’s no zero-sum game here. We need to have a very strong and robust relationship with India and we do – the world’s largest democracy. And we also want to have a strong relationship with Pakistan. It’s in the interests of the region to do so,” he said.

“The recent India and Bangladesh visit of the Secretary of State (John Kerry) and not going to Pakistan should not be treated otherwise,” Toner said.

“It doesn’t clearly indicate anything about our relationship with Pakistan. The Secretary has a very intense travel schedule. He’s been to Pakistan recently; he speaks often to senior Pakistani leadership,” he said, “Specifically, he was in India for the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and took the opportunity to also visit Bangladesh – I think the first time he’s been there,” he added.