Resolving Kashmir issue "absolutely critical" to establish peace in South Asia: Mullen

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Washington, Dec.9 (ANI) : US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has said that the resolution of the Kashmir issue is critical for establishing peace in the region and to de-escalate the heightened tension between India and Pakistan.

Speaking to media persons at the Foreign Press Centre here, Mullen said : "De-tensioning the Kashmir border is "absolutely critical" to South Asian stability."

"In the long-run, resolution of the border in the east in Kashmir is a very important outcome. Obviously, that is a principal concern to India and Pakistan. But there is a concern to many others in terms of stability of the region. I think that is a key part of what needs to happen in the future," he added.

Welcoming India's move to reduce troops presence in the Kashmir Valley, Mullen said it was a positive step, which would help certainly help in resolving the issue in the long run.

"The troops reduction adjustments that the Indians have proposed - I think executing those changes is a very positive step. I think the leadership, the political leadership, diplomatic leadership, the military leadership in both countries and in the region need to continue to encourage and also respond," Mullen said.

He also commended Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's peace initiatives.

"It's going to take outreach on part of both the countries. So, I am very positively moved by steps that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken with respect to this," Admiral Mullen said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has once again stressed that Pakistan's stability is critical to the security of South Asia.

Speaking to US Global Leadership of Coalition in Washington, Clinton said the Obama administration is amplifying its diplomatic and development efforts in the region and considered civilian aid a key part of the overall partnership with regional players.

"We have also begun expanding our civilian effort in Pakistan, whose stability is essential to the security of that region and beyond," The Daily Times quoted Clinton, as saying.

The top US diplomat highlighted that President Obama's new Afghan strategy, while advocated sending more troops to Afghanistan, it also backed sending more civilian aid, as the Obama administration believes that the war on terror cannot be won only by military means.

"The beginning of President Karzai's second term is such a window of opportunity, we will be sending 30,000 new American troops to Afghanistan and will be joined by 7,000 or more troops from our allies in NATO and ISAF. But we are also tripling the number of civilians on the ground, and we are seeing other countries come forward with additional commitments of civilians and civilian aid," she added. (ANI)

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