Pakistan to welcome US efforts to improve ties with India

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, April 22 (IANS) Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said the country would welcome any effort by the Donald Trump administration to encourage New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve their differences.

Dar, who is in Washington to attend the annual International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference, assured the international community that "Pakistan's nuclear assets are as safe as those of the US".

Dar said that over half of the world's population lived in the region, which is directly affected by relations between India and Pakistan, particularly the Kashmir dispute, reported Dawn online.

"So, any effort to help improve this situation is welcome," said the minister.

Dar said a former US President Bill Clinton had also offered to help resolve India-Pakistan dispute and Islamabad had welcomed that offer too.

The minister also defended Pakistan's decision to deny consular access to alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav: "It is a law, and commonly known, where there is a charge of treason or spying, consular access is not allowed."

Dar, however, said that legal consul was made available to Jadhav and there were "further steps" that a sentenced person can also take.

Jadhav has been sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Pakistan.

Dar said Pakistan also welcomed a recent statement by US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley, who had said that instead of waiting for a calamity to happen, the Trump administration would engage the two South Asia countries to defuse tensions between them.

The minister acknowledged that US-Pakistan relations had reached a stalemate but said that "we need to break this stalemate" as this relationship was important for both.

"We need to work together to resolve these differences. If there's any misunderstandings, those should be removed."

Responding to a question, Dar rejected former Afghan intelligence chief's Rahmatullah Nabil claim that Pakistan's nuclear assets were not safe and could end up in the hands of militants.

"Pakistan's command and control system as well as its nuclear security regime remain robust and are on a par with international standards. There has never been a single nuclear security incident in the country," the minister said.

Dar said that the former Afghan intelligence chief's claims were "grossly misleading and

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mala fide

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the world should ignore such claims".

--IANS

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