US sees Pakistani missile test a planned launch; urges restraint, improved Pak-India dialogue

WASHINGTON, April 25: The United States believes Pakistan‘s missile test on Wednesday – coming days after an Indian long-range testfire – was a “planned launch” as Washington reiterated its call for restraint by “all nuclear capable” states and improved dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.  

The State Department recognized the fact that Islamabad had taken the step to inform New Delhi in advance of the ballistic missile test.  “We understand that this was a planned launch,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at the daily briefing, when asked about successeful testfire of the missile, which, according ot media reports, can carry both nuclear and convential warheads and is an improved version of the previously tested Pakistani missile.

 The sokesperson noted that the “most important” thing was that Pakistan took the step to inform the Indians before proceeding with the test.  “I don’t know what kind of advance information we had. I assume we had some beacuse I do know that they did have contact with the Indian government before they proceeded with this,” Nuland responded to a question.

  “Obviously, the same message we gave at the time of the Indian test that we urge are all nuclear capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities,” Nuland said, when asked about the United States’s reaction.

 Washington, she said, is intent on Pakistan and India “continuing to work together and improve their dialogue.”  The State Department remarks indicated that the Pakistani missile test was not necessarily a direct retaliation to the Indian long-range missile test.

 On U.S.-Pakistan bilateral dialogue, the spokesperson said the Obama Administration’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman will be  traveling to Pakistan late Wednesday evening  to hold talks with Pakistani officials in the wake of Parliamentary guidelines for relations between the two countries.   He will be having bilateral conversations and he will also take part in a core group tri-lateral meeting involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States.

 “This is in the context of the Parliament completing its review,” she said.  The United States has begun the process of the re- engaging with the Pakistani government to “work through the issues that have come up during the review.”

 “This is a bilateral consultation about how we can improve our relationship along all of the lines that have been difficult,” State Department spokeswoman added.

 She said Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar had informed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the review in a call made by the U.S.top diplomat recently, and it was agreed during that conversation that Ambassador Grossman will travel to Pakistan to “deepen and broaden” the conversation the two countries are having.  In this respect, she recalled that Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, USAID chief Raj Shah and General Martin Dempsey, chairman Joint Chiefs Staff, had conversations with Pakistani officials recently.  

The U.S. is working hard with the Pakistanis to “work through the issues,” she remarked.  Grossman is flying to Pakistan after visits to Turkey and United Arab Emirates, where he held consultations on Afghanistan. He is not proceeding to Afghanistan during this trip.

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