US won''t mediate on Kashmir: Blackwill
4 February 2002
The Daily Excelsior
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: United States Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill today categorically stated that America had no intention to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. ''The US position on Kashmir is very simple: We are not going to mediate on the Kashmir issue. We do not think that we have a comparative advantage in doing so. What we will do is to tell Pakistan and India to talk about it,'' he said, replying to questions at a Meet-the-Press programme here. Asked why the US was reluctant to recognise India’s right to retaliate against Pakistan in the backdrop of cross-border terrorism, he said it was upto India to decide in the best judgement of its national interests. Blackwill said he certainly believed that India had the right of self-defence. However, ''it is my impression that India has decided to give a chance to diplomacy to solve the problem of terrorism,'' he said. Responding to a question, he said it was not upto the US to ‘grant’ India the right to retaliate. ''We are not gods going around granting the rights to respond,'' he said. Stating that the US had no intention to set up military bases in India, Blackwill said the era of any country having many military bases around the world had ended. ''You will find that as years pass, there will be less and less reliance on foreign bases''. He said the economic side of Indo-American ties was falling behind. Underscoring the need for greater economic reforms in India, Blackwill felt that too many import barriers and enormous amount of red-tapism came in the way of investment. The us however, had a burgeoning strategic ties with India. At the diplomatic level, the US was having intensive talks with India on the future of Afghanistan. Blackwill, who along with his wife, has been holidaying here since last week, said he had a ‘wonderful vacation’ in Kerala. The State had enormous potential as a tourist destination, he said.