August 30, 2016 / 2:30 PM / 3 years ago

Vital that Pakistan joins fight against terrorism, Kerry says

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attends a news conference after a meeting on Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistan needs to join other nations in fighting terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged on Tuesday, saying Islamabad should not feel isolated by planned trilateral talks between the United States, India and Afghanistan.

Kerry announced the initiative on a visit to New Delhi, and his show of support for his Indian hosts marked a departure from Washington’s usual neutrality regarding the nuclear-armed South Asian antagonists.

Tensions have spiked of late, as an uprising in Indian-administered Kashmir killed more than 60 people and injured thousands. Pakistan and India each claim the disputed territory in full but rule it only in part.

Addressing a news conference, Kerry denounced terrorism in all its forms. He said the perpetrators of attacks on Indian soil - in Mumbai in 2008 and at an airbase in Punjab last January - should be brought to justice.

“We cannot and will not make distinctions between good and bad terrorists,” Kerry said. “Terror is terror no matter where it comes from, (or) who carries it out.”

India accuses Pakistan of responsibility for both attacks. Pakistan is trying suspects in the Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people died. Investigations into this year’s airbase attack have so far been inconclusive.

India’s minister for external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, struck a similar note, saying there was a “meeting of minds” between her and Kerry on terrorism, which she described as the foremost threat to international peace and security.

Kerry said the United States would open the trilateral talks at the forthcoming United Nations meetings in New York with a view to stabilizing Afghanistan, whose U.S.-backed government is struggling to contain Taliban rebels.

“My hope is that Pakistan as a country is not isolated by this but is encouraged by this,” Kerry said, referring to the trilateral initiative.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Larry King

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