US condemns terror attacks in Kashmir; no change in Kashmir policy

Washington: The US has strongly condemned Friday’s terrorist attacks in Kashmir and said it remains firmly committed to working in close partnership with India to defeat terrorism in all its forms.

“The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist attacks in Kashmir, which claimed the lives of innocent civilians, military, and police personnel,” a senior State Department Official said in a statement.

“The United States remains firmly committed to working in close partnership with India to defeat terrorism in all its forms,” the official said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those affected by this deplorable attack.”

As many as 21 people, including eight army men, were killed and at least 10 injured Friday in a string of brazen militant strikes in Kashmir ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election rally in Srinagar Monday.

Jammu and Kashmir State is in the midst of five-phase assembly elections between Nov 25 and Dec 20.

Earlier, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf in response to a question about the attacks said the US was concerned about any violence in Kashmir, but its policy on Kashmir hasn’t changed and it still favoured a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

“Obviously we’re concerned about any violence in Kashmir. Our policy on Kashmir hasn’t changed,” she said.

“We still believe that the pace and the scope and character of India and Pakistan’s dialogue on Kashmir is for those two countries to determine, of course.”

The US “embassies in both places have raised these types of incidents with their respective host governments and certainly encouraged both to continue working together on the issue,” Harf said.

Asked to comment on the fact that the attack happened soon after Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif’s visit to the US during which he met Secretary of State John Kerry too, she said: “I think that you’re conflating a couple of things.”

“Obviously, we know the Secretary and the army chief of staff had a very productive discussion on Sunday on a range of security-related issues, and again, we’re concerned about any violence in Kashmir,” she said.

“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions here,” Harf said when asked about Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the attack. “But we have encouraged both countries to work together on this.”

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