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India, Pak should reduce tensions: White House

December 18, 2010 15:22 IST

The United States wants India and Pakistan to reduce tensions between them, the White House has said, insisting that the Barack Obama administration would continue to encourage the two countries to improve their ties.

"The tensions between the two countries are something that the President discusses with each country when he has visited leaders in India or called leaders in Pakistan. And he will continue to address that and take steps to ease any of that tension," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily news conference on Friday.

Gibbs also noted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks on Thursday, when she said how important it was that Pakistan took seriously the threat from extremists inside its territory and redirected forces to meet that threat.

He said that there is much work to be done on taking the steps that are necessary to address the safe havens that continue to exist in Pakistan.

State Department spokesman P J Crowley said, "First of all, how Pakistan decides to deploy its military forces is a decision for Pakistan. We have made no secret of our desire to see Pakistan take more aggressive action against extremist elements within its own borders."

"That is a threat to Pakistan itself. And as the Secretary said, we have seen Pakistan shift its emphasis away from the Pakistani-Indian border and more aggressively to the Swat Valley and other areas where these extremists operate. And no military has suffered more significant casualties in undertaking these operations than Pakistan," Crowley said.

"But these were obviously decisions for Pakistan to make. But the context of increasing dialogue and reducing tensions between Pakistan and India is something that we have stressed in our dialogue with both countries," he said.

The State Department spokesman said India has a legitimate interest in helping with the future of Pakistan.

"It has contributed significantly to development and reconstruction projects within Afghanistan. And we should encourage that activity, even as we stress the importance of dialogue between India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, other countries. So no efforts like this are misunderstood," he said.

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