WASHINGTON - In an apparent effort to strike a balance following the Obama administration’s tilt towards New Delhi, a State Department spokesperson said Friday that the United States has strong relationships with both India and Pakistan and going forward.

He said Washington would continue to have a close strategic partnership with Islamabad. “We have assured both the countries that the United States’ relationship with India and Pakistan are vital for our strategic interest, and they stand on their own,” Spokesperson Jen Psaki said when asked about Washington’s ties with the two South Asian countries in the wake of President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi where he appeared trying to appease India. “We work with Pakistan and India on a range of issues,” she added.

Responding to a question about Pakistan’s concerns regarding the impact of the US-India civil nuclear deal on the strategic stability in the region, the spokesperson noted that, “This particular issue of civil nuclear deal is one that has been ongoing for some time. But we certainly have reiterated our strong commitment to strategic relationship with Pakistan. As you know, Secretary of State John Kerry was there just a couple of weeks ago, visiting and reiterating our commitment to close ties.” Speaking in the backdrop of continued Pakistan-India tensions and shelling in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region and across the working boundary, the spokesperson reiterated Washington’s call for the two South Asian nuclear countries to hold dialogue for peaceful resolution to issues.

 “We encourage dialogue between India and Pakistan and obviously the scope and scale of the process is for the two countries to determine,” she said.