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'There is no change in US policy on Kashmir'

February 5, 2009

United States Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, US President Barack Obama's point man for South Asia, spoke exclusively to's Aziz Haniffa. The concluding part of the interview.

Part I: 'Cutting aid will curtail Pakistan army's independence'

On the issue of Kashmir, will US policy remain the same as it has been over the years -- that it has to be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan under the Shimla Accord, taking into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people?

I don't have a paragraph to recite for you yet from the new administration. When I was spokesman, I had a paragraph I memorised that I would state every time. There is not a new one at this time.

(But) I guess, what I would tell you is that the President and secretary (of state) have both made very clear we remain strongly interested in South Asia, we remain strongly interested in relations with India and developing that as much as we can as well as developing stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan. To the extent that we have encouraged progress in relaxing tensions between India and Pakistan, I am sure we are going to continue to encourage that.

I do not have a new sort of specificity on how we might do that. As I said, the situation we are at present -- the best way to improve relations between Pakistan and India is for all of us to work with the Pakistanis so that they can eliminate the terrorism problem because only when you get rid of the terrorism problem can the two countries really start to trust each other.

Image: A supporter of the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, the Pakistan Opposition alliance of six Islamic parties, during a rally on Kashmir Solidarity Day in Islamabad. Photograph: Mian Khursheed/Reuters

Also see: Obama's Kashmir focus a colossal blunder: Expert

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