No change in US Kashmir policy: US' McCain

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The Senators agreed with the need for the USA and Pakistan to forge closer cooperation in confronting the peace and security challenges in the region and beyond, the statement said.

The U.S. delegation has arrived in Islamabad at a time when relations between Pakistan and the Trump administration are under pressure.

Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, told media persons on Sunday that Pakistan has chose to intensify the campaign to internationally highlight "Indian brutalities in Indian-occupied Kashmir".

A group of key American lawmakers led by Senator John McCain visited Pakistan Sunday where they met top government and military officials to discuss bilateral ties, counterterrorism cooperation, and efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan.

The move instantly invited ire from Islamabad, which rejected the USA decision, saying the 70-year-old indigenous struggle of Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir remains legitimate.

Pakistan was also upset at the recent US arms deal with India signed during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington. "They agreed with the need for Pakistan and the USA to forge closer cooperation in confronting the peace and security challenges in the region and beyond", an official handout said. Adviser noted that QCG process remains a credible and effective vehicle to facilitate reconciliation and restore peace, stability and economic prosperity in Afghanistan.

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Aziz said that Pakistan wants good relations with all countries, but national interests will always be given priority.

The Pakistani statement quoted McCain, who heads Senate Armed Services Committee, as appreciating contributions and sacrifices by Islamabad in the fight against terrorism, and underscored the importance of continued engagement between the two countries.

Washington has long considered Kashmir as a dispute between Pakistan and India and in the past avoided taking sides while urging the two nuclear-armed neighbours to resolve the issue bilaterally.

The joint statement issued after the Trump-Modi visit gave the impression as if the United States has made a decision to depart from its traditional position on Kashmir.

Pakistan and the United States strategic partnership was critical to achieve peace and stability in the region and beyond, the official quoted the adviser as saying.

Speaking to media, he said India has failed to suppress the voice of Kashmiris through "use of force and brutal human rights violations".

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