Pakistan, India genuinely interested in improving ties: US

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WASHINGTON: The United States believes that India and Pakistan now seem genuinely interested in fostering greater understanding between the two countries, says the State Department.

At a news briefing, Spokesman John Kirby of the department also emphasised the need for all South Asian nations to work together to defeat terrorists.

`We continue to welcome efforts by India and Pakistan to work bilaterally to solve these very difficult, complicated issues,` he said Kirby while noting that both countrieswere victims of terrorism.

Relations between South Asia`s two nuclear-armed neighbours have started to warm up after an unscheduled meeting between their prime ministers in Paris earlier this month. A week after this meeting, Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad where both sides agreed to resume bilateral talks after two years of nerve-wrecking tensions.

And the Indian media reported this week that Prime Minister Narendra Modi also planned to visit Pakistan next month.

`They have started to do that (working together to improve relations) and appear to be genuinely interested in fostering greaterunderstanding between the two countries, that`s welcome. And we continue to encourage that,` said Mr Kirby when asked to comment on these developments.

At the briefing, an Indian journalist reminded Mr Kirby that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had recently directed Pakistani officials not to make negative or hateful comments against India and sought his reaction to this direction.

The US official said he had not seen Mr Sharif`s statement and therefore was not qualified to comment on it but the US welcomed any effort that helped improve relations between India and Pakistan.

`Every political leader hasresponsibilities ... especially ones that are dealing here with sensitive relations,` he said.

`You have a responsibility to preserve security and stability at the same time ... you also have a responsibility to preserve freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Responding to a question about Nobel Laureate Malala Yousufzai`s latest interview in which she said that hateful and extremist materials were taught at some Pakistani schools, Mr Kirby said there were `legitimate terrorism concerns, threats and challenges` in that part of the world and `we want everybody to contribute` to the fight against terrorism.

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