US lauds India's latest Kashmir efforts
12 January 2001
Calcutta: The United States Friday appreciated India's cease-fire offer in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi's effort to hold talks with Kashmiri leaders. 'We applaud Prime Minister Vajpayee's Ramadan cease-fire offer and its extension announced last month. That is why we are encouraged by steps taken on both sides to reduce violence. That is why we respect the government's effort to engage in substantive talks with a wide range of leaders in Kashmir', United States Ambassador to India Richard F Celeste said here. He said USA shared India's concern about tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad, 'Which have been especially high since the Kargil war last year', and expressed the hope that a congenial atmosphere would be created leading to resumption of dialogue between the two neighbours as per the Lahore Declaration. Celeste, addressing meeting organised by West Bengal Federation of United Nations Associations and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, asserted that following United States President Bill Clinton's visit to India and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's return visit to America, the opportunity to build a dynamic relation between the two countries in the 21st century was ripe. 'The NDA government has made it clear that it believes a broad-based and robust engagement with the United States is in India's national interest. I sense that many, though certainly not all, in the Opposition share this view,' he said.