Will President Barack Obama make some public remarks on Kashmir during his trip to India next month?
At a White House press briefing, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes refused to be pinned down on specifics, beyond saying that the United States would continue to express support for India and Pakistan to pursue talks.
"I wouldn’t -- I don't want to get into prefacing with precision what his comments are, in part because he’ll be answering a lot of questions there in the town hall and press conference and we haven’t -- we’re still working through his remarks on certain things," he said.
Yet it is a question that cannot -- and will not -- be left to chance.
Indian is deeply sensitive about foreign visitors talking about Kashmir -- as British foreign ministers have learned to their cost on earlier trips. It regards Kashmir as an integral part of India and refuses even to recognise the territory at the heart of more than 60 years of enmity with Pakistan as disputed. Moreover, it has consistently rejected outside interference, saying that its disputes with Pakistan must be settled bilaterally.
Obama, who raised hackles in India during his presidential election campaign by suggesting the Washington should try to help resolve the Kashmir dispute, is hoping to use the trip to help U.S. business tap into India's growing economy. With a flagging economy at home, he cannot afford to offend his hosts.