Washington - The US has asked India and Pakistan to engage in direct dialogue to reduce bilateral tensions and resolve issues, including Kashmir.

“I think one of the things that we would do is ask or encourage India and Pakistan to sit down together and engage in direct dialogue that is aimed at reducing tensions between both of those countries,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters yesterday.

Her remarks came in response to the statement made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson a day earlier in which he sought some rapprochement steps from India on issues with Pakistan.

Asked what steps India could take and if Tillerson was linking a solution on Kashmir with Pakistan-Afghanistan, Nauert said the US views the whole strategy and the handling of Afghanistan as being a regional strategy, and that incorporates India as well as Pakistan.

“So incorporating all the nations in that region who we believe can help assist and help make Afghanistan a stable place where you’ll never have a terror group that will take root in that country again and can launch attacks on other countries,” Nauert said.

Asked if the US sees pushing for a solution on Kashmir as part of this regional strategy to deal with Afghanistan, she said, “In terms of Kashmir, our policy on that has not changed. We continue to encourage the sides to sit down and talk together about that.”

The spokesperson also informed that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to give a heads-up as to what new strategy of the US would be.

Nauert emphasised on diplomatic and political process for establishing peace in Afghanistan.

Nauert notified that no talks have yet been held with Pakistan regarding installation of fence on Pak-Afghan border. “We haven’t had conversations with the Pakistani government about that idea or that proposal. We continue to support practical cooperation between both of the countries,” she said.

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A foreign ministry statement said the consultations covered a broad range of issues related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation on which the two sides shared a commonality of perspectives.

On the issue of Nuclear Supplier Group’s membership and applications of states who are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pakistan underscored the need for a two-step approach through open and transparent inter-governmental procedures and the principle of reaching an agreement through consultations.

In a separate statement, the foreign ministry condemned the suicide attack in Helmand (Afghanistan).

The statement said that Pakistan strongly condemns the suicide attack on Police Patrol in Lashkargah (Helmand), resulting in the deaths of many people including civilians and injuries to several others.

“We convey heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the early recovery of the injured,” the statement said.

It added: “Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Terrorism is a common enemy and global menace. Pakistan reaffirms its unrelenting efforts in fighting this menace.”