Asserting that India and Pakistan must engage in "direct dialogue" to reduce tensions, the US has said it is for the two countries to determine the pace, scope and character of talks on the Kashmir issue.
"The normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is vital to both countries and the region," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said.
"Steps that initiate closer regional economic ties can also create jobs, lower inflation and increase energy supply," he said yesterday.
The spokesperson made the remarks while responding to questions on the statement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that India is shying away from talks on Kashmir and other bilateral issues.
"We believe that the pace, scope, and character of dialogue on Kashmir is for India and Pakistan to determine," Toner said.
"However, India and Pakistan stand to benefit from practical cooperation and we encourage India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions," he said.
"The United States strongly supports all efforts between India and Pakistan that can contribute to a more stable, democratic, and prosperous region, but this is an issue that must be determined by the two sides," Toner said.