"Just recently this past weekend there was a handshake and some discussion between the two leaders at the SAARC Summit that led to the signing of some agreements on energy and motorways and rail cars," US Ambassadorial nominee for India Richard Verma told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing yesterday.

"I think what we can do is continue to encourage that kind of dialogue," he said.

"But ultimately it is for the Indians and the Pakistanis to discuss the security issues," Verma said.

Responding to a question on India-Pakistan relations, Verma said there was promise when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited India for the inauguration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May.

"But again, on the security issues themselves, the pace, the character and the scope of those discussions between Pakistan and India are ultimately up to the two countries," he said.

Verma said it is the "regional connectivity" which would increase people-to-people ties in South Asia.

"I think the trade right now between India and Pakistan stands around USD 3 billion, which is a very small sum compared to what it could be.

"To the extent that greater trade, economic infrastructure, energy development can be made through the countries, that will naturally help increase connectivity outside of the government."

He said, "Where we can help is on the regional connectivity issues and on the economic and people-to-people issues between the two countries.

"This is something I think the three countries have to work at very hard."

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