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Sharif seeks US intervention on Kashmir despite rebuff

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Sharif seeks US intervention on Kashmir despite rebuff
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Washington: Despite a rebuff from both India and the US, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday once again sought to draw Washington into the Kashmir dispute ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama.

"Given its relationship with India, US has capacity to do more to help Pakistan-India resolve their disputes, including Kashmir," he said in an address to the US Institute of Peace, a US Congress funded federal institution, on the eve of his meeting with Obama.

"Pakistan appreciate the constrictive role US is playing between Pakistan and India," Sharif said asking US to do more, repeating the comments he had made Sunday in London on way to Washington.

US had rejected out of hand Sharif's call for Washington to get involved to resolve the Kashmir issue even before he landed here Sunday with a senior administration official saying that "On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota."

While it encouraged a dialogue between the two countries, "the pace, scope, and character of India and Pakistan's dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine with each other," the official said repeating the oft-stated US stand.

India too has rejected any third party intervention in Kashmir with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid making it clear that the matter can be discussed only under the 1972 Shimla Pact.

Sharif acknowledged that "Kashmir is a delicate issue", but said there is nothing that can't be resolved through talks.

"Pakistan and India will have to sit down together for talks. Even Kashmir can be solved by sitting and talking."

"Pakistan desires to live in peace with its neighbour (India)," Sharif said during a question and answer session later.

It "would like to pick up the threads from where we left in 1999 and seriously address our issues", he said striking a conciliatory posture.

"Whenever we want to move forward (with India), something happens... We need to get out of this situation," he said suggesting that the peace process between India and Pakistan was derailed by Gen Pervez Musharraf, who overthrew him in a coup in October 1999.

"We made great strides with India in the 1990s," he said.

"My government in the 1990s laid the foundations for peace with India... The whole process was derailed by Mr. Musharraf," he said.

IANS

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