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Washington's stance on Kashmir unchanged, assures McCain

03 July 2017

The source said that the United States delegation urged Pakistan to help revive the peace process as the USA review had entered in a crucial situation.

The visit came as President Donald Trump's administration is preparing to unveil its new Afghan war strategy later this month amid allegations sanctuaries on Pakistani soil are helping the Taliban sustain and intensify the insurgency.

Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz met on Sunday a five-member delegation of United States senators led by Senator John McCain here.

"We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan", McCain, who was accompanied by senators Lindsey Graham, Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse and David Perdue, said later.

The move instantly invited ire from Islamabad, which rejected the US decision, saying the 70-year-old indigenous struggle of Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir remains legitimate.

He said that continued engagement with Pakistan, a close friend and ally of the USA, was important.

McCain said the Kashmir issue should be resolved in a peaceful way through negotiation.

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McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, met Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan's top foreign policy official, and also met army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

However, during the meeting between Sartaj Aziz and U.S. delegation, it was evident that Pakistan still remains relevant for Washington for the regional peace and stability. An official, who attended the meeting, told Pakistan Today that the USA congressmen looked keen in revival of peace efforts in Afghanistan and asked Pakistan to come up with its suggestions to normalise situation in Afghanistan.

The adviser underscored the significance of the longstanding cooperation between the two countries and the need to make this partnership diverse and multidimensional.

"The US will continue its policy regarding Kashmir issue and no change has been made in this regard".

He noted that Islamabad was also ready to strengthen and deepen its partnership with Washington to counter "the expanding footprint in the region" of Islamic State terrorists.

He also raised concern over the gross human rights violations by the Indian forces in the disputed state and global community's silence over the reign of terror unleashed by India on unarmed Kashmiris.

Aziz, who serves as de facto foreign minister, reiterated his country's position, saying, "Pakistan firmly believes in the legitimacy of the Kashmir cause and the peaceful struggle of the Kashmiri people to claim the right to self-determination promised to them by the worldwide community through the UN Security Council resolutions".

Washington's stance on Kashmir unchanged, assures McCain