| Updated at: 0742 PST, Saturday, October 23, 2010|
WASHINGTON: The United States said Friday that it has “great concern” about the situation in Kashmir but indicated it would not try to mediate over the Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan.
US officials rarely speak publicly about Kashmir, which India considers a domestic issue.
But Pakistan raised the issue vocally at high-level talks with the United States aimed at improving the two nations’ uneasy partnership.
“We obviously have great concern about the situation in Kashmir,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters when asked about Pakistan’s statements.
“We talk both to our Pakistani friends and our Indian friends on this issue on a regular basis. We would like to see the situation in Kashmir resolved,” he said.
“There is obviously too much tension and violence in Kashmir, which is why we continue to encourage both countries to resolve it through dialogue,” he said.
But he added: “The United States policy is clear: We believe that this is ultimately an issue that has to be resolved between India and Pakistan.”
Kashmir, a scenic Himalayan territory with a Muslim majority but large Hindu minority, is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. It has triggered two of the three full-fledged wars between the nuclear powers.
India has long accused Pakistan of fomenting an extremist insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in the region. Pakistan says recent street protests, in which more than 100 people have died, prove that resentment is local.
President Barack Obama next month visits India in a bid to broaden warming ties between the world’s two largest democracies. Many Indian commentators have been skeptical about Obama due to his early focus on Pakistan and China.
Before his inauguration, Obama mused in an interview about US mediation in Kashmir, triggering a sharp backlash in India.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking Friday next to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referred to those remarks by Obama to press him to take up Kashmir when he visits New Delhi.
“His coming visit to the region is the time to begin to redeem the pledge that he made earlier,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi said that a resolution on Kashmir was vital for a “peaceful and stable South Asia.”
“The Kashmiri mothers are baffled at the deafening silence of the world leadership,” Qureshi said.
The United States during the talks pledged two billion dollars of military aid to Pakistan, a frontline partner in US military efforts against extremism.