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No solution from outside on Kashmir: Obama

16 July, 2012

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WASHINGTON: Ruling out any solution from "outside" to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, US President Barack Obama, on Sunday, underlined that disputes between India and Pakistan could only be resolved by the two countries themselves.

Welcoming the Indo-Pak dialogue process, he said, "It is not the place of any nation, including the United States, to try to impose solutions from the outside. Nations must meet their responsibilities and all of us have a profound interest in a stable, prosperous and democratic Pakistan."

Obama mentioned that President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to India was encouraging, and said, "Increased trade and people-to-people contacts between the Indians and Pakistanis can lead to greater prosperity and understanding on both sides. Efforts in New Delhi and Islamabad to improve relations gives hope for further progress, including a possible visit to Pakistan by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."

The US President answered questions on the future of Afghanistan and the role of India in the country, as well as the US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. He said that India's generous contributions had helped train Afghan police, promote development and improve the lives of the Afghan people.

India was the first nation to forge a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan, and India's civil service can be a model as Afghans strengthen their own governance and institutions, he said.

As a result of this spring's NATO Summit in Chicago, he said the US now had a clear path for bringing the war to a responsible end. He said that the troops would continue to come home and by the next year the Afghan forces would take the lead for combat operations while the coalition forces would shift from combat to support across the country.

"After 2014, NATO will continue to train, advice, assist and support Afghan forces as they grow stronger. Likewise, the Strategic Partnership Agreement that the US signed with Afghanistan, as well as our designation of Afghanistan as a Major non-NATO ally, makes it clear that we will not abandon that country, or the region, to terrorists who threaten us as well," he said.

On commentators' view that US wanted India to be a counterweight to the growing role of China in the region, Obama said that after a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US had made a strategic decision, that as a Pacific power they would play a larger and long-term role in shaping the future of the Asia Pacific region, as it was vital to American security and prosperity.

"Our efforts are aimed at no nation. On the contrary, our increased engagement in the region, in concert with allies and partners, is designed to advance the security, prosperity and dignity of people all across the region," he said.

Obama said the US had therefore strengthened its key alliances, including with Japan, South Korea and Australia, and worked to deepen partnerships with emerging powers, including India.

He said the US valued its growing partnership with India because it advanced its mutual security, not as a counterweight to any nation.

End.

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