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No change in Kashmir policy: US
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WASHINTON, Oct 21 (Agencies): The US has said there has not been an "iota of change" in its policy on Kashmir, which remains a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, as it dismissed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to seek American intervention to settle the dispute.

"On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota," a senior Obama Administration official told reporters during a news conference yesterday as Sharif arrived on an official visit to the US, the first by a Pakistani premier in over five years.

Sharif, on a four-day official visit to the US, had sought American intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue. He is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the senior official reiterated the Obama Administration's stated position that it is up to India and Pakistan to determine the "pace, scope and character of their dialogue on Kashmir".

India too dismissed Sharif's efforts to involve the US in settling the Kashmir issue.

Senior US officials, however, expressed concern at terrorism emanating from inside Pakistan and the impact this could have on peace talks with India that began after Sharif was voted to power in May.

"Clearly we would be concerned about the terrorist groups that would derail that dialogue process," the official said.

While the focus of the Obama-Sharif meeting would be bilateral relations, including energy, economy and extremism, and the situation in Afghanistan, US officials said India would figure in the talks.

"We expect India to come up at some point (during the Obama-Sharif meeting). We have been very encouraged by steps that both India and Pakistan have taken," the senior official said.

He listed various steps taken by the two countries, included the meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York last month.

"Obviously (they are) very positive," the official said. The Obama Administration is encouraged by steps India and Pakistan have taken to resolve issues on trade and energy, in keeping with the "energy and economy theme" that Obama and Sharif would explore here.

The economic relationship, the official said, is particularly important.

News Updated at : Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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