<!-- IMAGE -->
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met recently on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The United States welcomes this, the first meeting between the 2 leaders since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"A resumption of such high-level engagement in the aftermath of the November Mumbai attacks is encouraging," said State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly. "We have said before that India and Pakistan need to continue their dialogue to find joint solutions against terrorism and to promote regional stability."
State Department Spokesman Kelly said that as much as the United States welcomes dialogue and better relations between India and Pakistan, the pace, the scope, and the character of that dialogue is up to the leaders of the 2 countries. "How and when to approach that dialogue is something for them to decide", said Spokesman Kelly.
For the moment, India's stated goal, as voiced by Prime Minster Singh, is to ensure that the territory of Pakistan not be allowed to be used for terrorism against India. But Pakistan is even now in the midst of a battle against extremist militants; a fight that has also seen an escalation in terrorist attacks against its own civilian population. A détente with India could allow Pakistan to concentrate its resources on clearing out the pockets of extremists within Pakistan, which pose a threat to both countries.
"As Pakistan now works to take on the challenge of terrorists in its own country," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, "I am confident that India, as well as the United States, will support those efforts.
"We believe that India and Pakistan actually face a number of common challenges,” said Secretary of State Clinton, “and we welcome a dialogue between them."