Ahead of a crucial meeting between Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Obama Administration came out in support of India's stand on pre-conditions for talks with Pakistan.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said the progress made by Pakistan in bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice and stopping cross-border infiltration would lay the basis of resumption of talks between the two south Asian neighbours.
"The progress is needed first to bring the Mumbai suspects, who are already in custody to trial, to prosecute them and also to stop cross-border infiltration so that there is no other attack such as what happened in Mumbai," he said.
"And I think that kind of progress would lay the basis of resumption of these confidence building measures that you talked about," Blake said in response to a question at the prestigious Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University after a speech on Obama Administration's South Asia policy.
Hoping that the two countries would be able to make progress in their bilateral peace talks, signals of which have come from the recent meetings between India and Pakistan beginning with that of the Prime Ministers of the two countries, Blake said it is for India and Pakistan to resolve the issues between them.
"We are very encouraged by the significant meetings that have taken place – the Summit meeting that took place between the two Prime Ministers at Sharm El-Sheikh in July, there has been a number of meetings between the two countries at various levels – at Foreign Secretary level; there would be other meetings I understand on the margins of the UN General Assembly and we hope that the two countries would be able to make progress," Blake said.
"So, I think there is a way forward and a significant positive opportunities we hope that the two countries can seize on," he said.
When specifically asked about the action being taken by Islamabad against the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack, Blake said: "This is for the government of Pakistan to decide when to take these steps. Certainly it is in Pakistan's own interest."
Appreciating the steps being taken by Pakistan against terrorists in the Swat Valley and Waziristan for which there is popular support among the people of the country, Blake hoped that this momentum can be maintained against all terrorists based in Pakistan.
"First time in a long time we have a common interest in that so we are all working towards that common goal," he added.