18th November 1997
Islamabad: The US Secretary of State, Ms. Madeleine Albright, today rejected Pakistan's demand for mediation with India over the Kashmir issue and said her country wanted the two neighbours to continue their dialogue process to resolve their differences.
Ms. Albright opens formal talks with Pakistani leaders today during a two-day visit intended to underscore Washington's renewed engagement with South Asia. Ms. Albright arrived in Islamabad yesterday, delayed a day by US diplomatic attempts to drum up support for possible US action against Iraq.
Ms. Albright said her country gave importance to ties with both India and Pakistan and wanted the two neighbours to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue so that peace could return to the region.
"The USA believes that this is a subject which can be resolved through negotiations,"Ms. Albright told newsmen after her meetings with President Farooq Leghari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan.
"The role the USA can play in this is to nudge the process along and do what we can," Ms Albright said on her maiden visit to the South Asian region.
Besides the Kashmir issue, the Afghanistan crisis, non-proliferation in South Asia, and Iraq's latest spat with Washington, came up for discussion in her talks with Pakistani leaders.
Mr Ayub Khan, who was present at the briefing, said, "Our principled position on the core issue of Kashmir was explained to the secretary of State. We believe the USA can play a role in making this (Indo-Pak) dialogue meaningful and productive."
Addressing a Press Conference after her meeting with President leghari and foreign Minister Gohar Ayub, ms. Albright said three agreements were signed today which reflected the importance the USA gave to its meaningful relationship with Pakistan. She also discussed with the Pakistani leadership the vast potential of US investment in Pakistan. Remarking on the US-Pakistan relationship, Ms. Albright said the history of mutual friendship and co-operation that existed between them should continue.