UN chief backs Manmohan-Sharif meeting

United Nations, Sep 18 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he supports a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to "handle" tensions along the Line of Control in Kashmir.

"I will strongly welcome and continue to provide my own support and efforts to facilitate such a dialogue" on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's ministerial session starting next week that both leaders are attending, he told reporters Tuesday.

The issue of violence along the LoC "should be and could be handled ... between the two leaders" the UN chief said, disclosing that when he visited Pakistan last month he strongly recommended to Sharif to take advantage of the UN session for such a meeting.

The issue of improving ties between the "two very important countries" India and Pakistan "was one of my top agendas" during his Pakistan visit, he said as he "was very much concerned about this exchange of fires and skirmishes along the Line of Control."

Meanwhile, in Washington US officials have also expressed support for an India-Pakistan dialogue at the highest level.

State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday: "Obviously, we always feel that dialogue between India and Pakistan is important for continuing the relationship between the two countries."

US Special Representative James Dobbins also described improvement in Pakistan-India relations as key to South Asian stability.

"On India and Pakistan relations, we would support any initiatives which led to an improvement in those relations," he told foreign media when asked to comment on a likely meeting between Manmohan Singh and Sharif.

"We think it's important for both countries, it's important for the stability of the broader region, it's important for the world.

"They're both nuclear-armed powers, and a conflict between them would be disastrous not just for them, but for everyone," he said.

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