US pitches for restarting India-Pakistan dialogue


New Delhi: Pitching for resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue, the US Thursday said it is pressing Islamabad to take firm and urgent action against extremists and terrorists operating in its territory.

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“US has welcomed better relations between the two countries. The pace, scope and character of the relationship has to be decided by the two countries,” US Under Secretary of State William Burns told reporters here.

The US has made it clear to Pakistan that it has a “special responsibility” to act firmly and immediately against those responsible for the Mumbai attacks and bring them to justice, Burns replied when asked about the release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafeez Saeed by a Pakistani court.

Burns called on Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and held discussions on a wide range of issues that included India-US civil nuclear cooperation, the situation in Pakistan and the region and expanding defence relations between the two countries.

The Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai attacks figured prominently in the discussions.

While the US has been putting pressure for resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue, New Delhi has conveyed its disappointment over Pakistan’s inaction and said it will wait for Islamabad to take tangible action against the Mumbai terrorists.

Burns, who arrived Wednesday, met with several Indian leaders including External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Burns’ is the highest-ranking US official to visit India after the general elections and the return to power of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.