US ready to help settle Siachen dispute
WASHINGTON: The United States said on Monday that it was ready to help India and Pakistan resolve their differences over the Siachen glacier where an avalanche caused the death of 139 Pakistani soldiers during the weekend.
At a regular briefing at the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland also said that the United States had sent a rescue team to the region on Pakistan’s request.
“We have made clear to both India and Pakistan that we are prepared to be supportive in any way that might be helpful,” said the US official when a reporter asked if the United States was willing to go beyond the rescue operation and help India and Pakistan find a peaceful solution to this issue.“But primarily we see this being settled by dialogue between them,” Ms Nuland added, repeating the traditional US stance that they could only play a role in an India-Pakistan dispute if both parties asked them to do so.
India strongly opposes third-party assistance in its disputes with Pakistan, stalling all international offers for help.
“At the request of the government of Pakistan, the US government did deploy an eight-man US military alpine search-and-rescue team from Kabul to Islamabad,” Ms Nuland said.
She said the team arrived on Sunday and was still in Islamabad, awaiting instructions to deploy in Siachen. “We’re discussing with the Pakistani military how best they might be used,” the US official said.
“But we stand by to assist, and to my knowledge we haven’t had any additional requests from Pakistan.”
“The Pakistanis actually invited US military into their country?” a reporter asked.
“Yes. Yes,” said the US official. “This was obviously a humanitarian request, a horrible situation with the avalanche. We felt it was important to respond to their request. As I said, they haven’t left Islamabad yet, but they’re ready to help,” Ms Nuland said.