US envoy favours India-Pakistan talks despite Pune blast

Bangalore, February 18: US Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer Wednesday favoured India talking to Pakistan Feb 25 despite the terror blast in Pune that killed 11 and hoped the talks would be successful.

“It’s good to be talking. We are always in favour of India talking to Pakistan. Our consistent position has been that both the countries should engage in bilateral dialogue on all issues,” Roemer told reporters here. It was his first visit to India’s tech hub since he took over as US envoy in August last year.

Denying any US pressure on what India should do or not with respect to Pakistan or any other country on bilateral issues, Roemer said President Barak Obama believed in talking out problems than avoiding them, as evident from his engagements with North Korea, Iran and other countries in diplomacy.

“Similarly, India and Pakistan need to talk and remain engaged to improve bilateral ties. It’s important to talk because the terrorists don’t want that to happen. Their (terrorists) agenda is to disrupt the democratic process and values of freedom and liberty we all cherish,” the ambassador stressed.

Clarifying that the US travel advisory to American citizens following the terror blast in Pune was precautionary and not restrictive, Roemer said there were no curbs on the movement of the American people to India but only a reminder to be alert and sensitive to the developments.

“We live in a very different and dangerous world. Everyone has to be alert and careful about their movements. The travel advisory is not specific to Americans visiting India only but also to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries, which have been witnessing a spate of terror attacks and suicide bombings,” Roemer pointed out.

In this context, the envoy referred to the accompanying 15-member US trade mission to India for exploring business opportunities in solar energy. The delegation is on a week-long visit to New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai to help US solar firms initiate or expand their exports to India.

“The trade mission is part of the Obama’s Administration’s strategic dialogue to advance commercial ties between India and the US,” US acting assistant secretary Mary Saunders said on the occasion.

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