Pakistan welcomes US mediation in easing tension with India: Khawaja Asif

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Pakistan believes in regional peace and welcomes mediation by the United States in easing tension with India, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said on Monday.

Addressing the fourth round of US-Pakistan Bilateral Dialogue in Islamabad, Asif said Pakistan has always preferred a comprehensive dialogue with its South Asian neighbour that could contribute to peace in the region, Radio Pakistan reported.

The dialogue, titled ‘Convergence amid Divergence: Identifying Pathways to Cooperation in a Challenging Environment’, was called to deliberate on ways to ease the strain in bilateral Pak-US ties.

Commenting on the new US strategy for South Asia and the role accorded to India in the policy, the minister said US has assured Pakistan that New Delhi’s role in Afghanistan would be limited to providing economic assistance to the war-torn country.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed concern over India’s role in the US strategy, saying its security concerns in the region should be recognised.

While announcing his strategy for the region, US President Donald Trump had said the US appreciates India’s important contributions to Afghan stability. But he also lamented that India “makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States.”

Trump had said he wanted India to provide more economic assistance and development to Afghanistan.

‘US should share intelligence with Pakistan’

Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts have prevented “countless” militant attacks in the US and Europe, Asif said, adding that Pakistan and US both have a lot of work to do in fighting negative perceptions.

The foreign minister said self-defence and self-interest is Pakistan’s foremost priority and the country will not allow its soil to be used against any other country.

He said Pakistan is ready to extend all possible cooperation to achieve the goal of peace and stability in Afghanistan. In line with the same efforts, Pakistan has also reached out to regional countries and forums like South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

Saarc should be activated and steps should be taken to promote trade in the region which has suffered for long due to instability in Afghanistan, he said.

Asif said intelligence sharing is vital for improving border management with Afghanistan, adding that the US should share timely intelligence so that Pakistan can take action.

Talking to reporters, the minister said differences in Pak-US bilateral ties are only misconceptions which are being removed by continued dialogue.

Asif added that recent high-level exchanges between the two countries have helped relieve the tension in the relationship.

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