US welcomes Indo-Pak talks likely next month

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The US today welcomed the meetingexpected between Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan inBhutan next month, hoping it could lead to a headway innormalising their relations.

"India and Pakistan have recently announced that theywill talk more in February. The United States welcomes thosecommunications and that outreach and that discussion," USAmbassador to India Timothy J Roemer told reporters here afterinaugurating a school for girls from economically-backwardfamilies.

He hoped that the meeting between the Foreign Secretarieswould lead to some headway in the India-Pakistan peaceprocess.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistanicounterpart Salman Bashir are expected to have a meeting inThimphu early next month on the sidelines of a SAARCconference.

The meeting between the Foreign Secretaries could lead tothe long-expected visit of Pakistan Foreign Minister ShahMahmood Qureshi here to discuss ways to end trust-deficit.

To a question on India''s concerns over misuse of Americanmilitary aid by Pakistan and whether any steps were beingtaken to correct that, Roemer said the US Congress is playinga vibrant role to ensure that the "package" is used for the"intended purpose".

As a former member of the Congress, Roemer said, "we wereconstantly asking the Executive branch in Washington when theymade an arms sale to Pakistan or any other country to ensurethat those arms would be used for the intended purpose."

The US Congress is playing a "very vibrant role" in theAmerican system to monitor the arms sale to Pakistan and othercountries, he said.

At the same time, the Ambassador underlined that it wasin the interest of both the US and India "to make sure thatthere''s not a fragile, deteriorating Pakistan on India''sborder, but one that can eventually be a healthy partner withIndia."

In this regard, he said that the US, in addition toproviding military and intelligence aid to Pakistan, has alsoshifted focus to economic and educational issues in thecountry to ensure its "stabiltiy." PTI EKA AKK

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