US should stop looking at JK through security prism: Omar

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Omar Abdullah
Jammu/Srinagar, Mar 17: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said the US should stop looking at the state only through the "prism of security" and should identify ways for extending its expertise in capacity building, environment projects and other areas.

"The US should stop looking at Jammu and Kashmir only through a security prism and should have a look at normal activities which includes helping in capacity building and providing expertise in environmental projects," Omar said after US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer called on him at his residence here.

During the hour-long meeting, the Chief Minister said Jammu and Kashmir stands as the biggest beneficiary of the better relations between India and Pakistan.

"We stand as the biggest beneficiary of good relations between India and Pakistan and are worst sufferers in case of a stand-off," he said.

Roemer, who arrived here this morning on a two-day visit to the state, reiterated the statement of President Barak Obama that the US was interested in better relations between India and Pakistan and that Kashmir issue was a bilateral matter between the two nations.

The two leaders also discussed the security situation in the state before the Ambassador flew to Kashmir.

Political observers feel that his meeting with the Chief Minister was a clear message to separatist leaders -- moderate as well as hardline -- that the US will not support any group indulging in violence.

Roemer will not be meeting leaders of any other political party or their representatives including that of the state's main opposition PDP. He has confined his engagements to meeting school children and non-political NGOs.

Upon his arrival in Srinagar, Roemer drove straight to Hazratbal Shrine where he offered prayers before being given a presentation by the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority. Roemer later enjoyed a motor boat ride on the Dal Lake.

He will be offering prayers at Shankaracharya temple besides meeting youths of apolitical NGO Yakhjah. He will be meeting children of a school before flying out of Kashmir tomorrow evening, officials privy to the visit said.

US envoys to India have been visiting Jammu and Kashmir during the peak of militancy in 1990s.

PTI

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