Kerry warns Pakistan over ‘sanctuary’ for extremists

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New Delhi (AFP): US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Pakistan Tuesday to do more to stop extremist groups operating out of its territory, saying on a visit to India there could be no distinction between “good and bad terrorists”.

Kerry said it was vital that Islamabad moved to “deprive any group of sanctuary”, highlighting the threat posed by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist group behind a string of anti-Indian attacks.

“We will not and we cannot make distinctions between good and bad terrorists… Terrorism is terrorism,” Kerry said at a press conference alongside India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Kerry said the US government had “had conversations with all members of the region frankly about efforts they need to take against terrorism which comes out of their country”, adding that he had personally raised the issue with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

India has accused Pakistan of stoking a new bout of unrest in Kashmir, the troubled Himalayan region which has been divided between the two countries since independence in 1947 and is claimed in full by both.

Around 70 civilians have been killed since the beginning of last month in the aftermath of the Indian army’s killing of a charismatic young separatist leader and a curfew remains in place in many parts of Kashmir.

Swaraj said there was “a meeting of minds” during her talks with Kerry on tackling the threats posed by extremists as she reiterated long-standing accusations that Pakistan was sponsoring “cross-border terrorism”.

“I briefed Secretary Kerry about the continuing problem of cross-border terrorism that India and the larger region faces from Pakistan,” she said.

“We repeated our stand that Pakistan should stop providing safe havens to terror groups… We also agreed that countries must not categorise terrorists as good or bad.”

Both sides said that there had been an agreement to step up cooperation on intelligence.

“We agree on additional measures to strengthen our counterterrorism,” said Swaraj. “We will intensify intelligence sharing.”

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