New Delhi: Islamabad’s continued support to extremist groups involved in cross-border terrorism is the primary obstacle to a direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, the United States said on Tuesday. The US also mentioned the Shimla Agreement as the most potential for reducing tensions, news agency PTI reported.

“We believe that direct dialogue between India and Pakistan, as outlined in the 1972 Shimla Agreement, holds the most potential for reducing tensions,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice G Wells told Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“History shows us what is possible,” Wells said in a prepared statement submitted to the Congressional subcommittee on the eve of the hearing “Human Rights in South Asia: Views from the State Department and the Region”, referring to the backchannel negotiations during 2006-2007 which helped the neighbouring countries to make significant progress.

Pakistan remains accountable for violence across the Line of Control fomented by terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed, she said expressing concern over the recent security situation in Kashmir.

Taking note of the ‘recent shelling on the Line of Control (LoC)’, the US government on Monday urged India and Pakistan to have a direct dialogue on all issues of concern, including Kashmir.

“We are concerned about reports of local and foreign militants attempting to intimidate local residents and business owners in order to stymie normal economic activity. The United States supports the rights of Kashmiris to peacefully protest, but condemns the actions of terrorists who seek to use violence and fear to undermine dialogue,” she said.

Earlier, the US State Department issued a statement on reports of recent shelling across the Line of Control. In a statement, the US State Department said, “We are aware of media reports of recent shelling at Line of Control. We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along LoC and to prevent cross-border terrorism. We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern.”

On Sunday, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat confirmed that around six to 10 Pakistani soldiers had been killed and four terror camps were destroyed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, though Pakistan denied it.

(With Agency Inputs)