Chennai, July 21: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said she was encouraged by resumption of talks between India and Pakistan and the upcoming meeting between the Foreign Ministers of the two neighbours was “another chance to make tangible progress”. “As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh put it so beautifully, I dream of a day, when while retaining our respective identities, one can have breakfast at Amritsar, lunch at Lahore and dinner in Kabul. That was how my forefathers lived,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar are scheduled to meet in Delhi on July 26-27.
“I was very encouraged at reports of resumption of dicussions between India and Pakistan... The upcoming meeting of Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers is another chance to make tangible progress..”, Clinton said.
Addressing students and opinion makers here, Clinton also said “...none of us should tolerate safe haven for terrorists anywhere.. So we looked to the Pakistan government to press insurgents to join the reconciliation process (in Afghanistan) to protect Pakistani territory from being used for attacks that destablisies Afganistan or India.”
On the festering Afghan conflict, she said, it continued to be a major challenge for US and India.“I want to be very clear, US is committed to Afganistan and to the region. We will be there. Yes, we are beginning to withdraw combat troops and transfer responsibility for security to the Afgan people, a process that will be completed in 2014.”
But, she made it clear that withdrawing the troops was not same as leaving or disengaging.Clinton said India had pioneered some of its work over the years in bringing people into the political system out of insurgent phase in Afghanistan.
She also noted that in Kabul, earlier this year, Singh had reaffirmed, India's commitment to Afghan-led reconciliation and Indian government reinforced that committment last month by supporting UN Security Council resolution, that cleared the way for lifting sanctions. India was rightly concerned about the outside intereference in the reconciliation process, she said, adding, “we agree with those concerns.”
“We will continue to encourage New Delhi in constructive role, for example, in advocating, based on India's own experience, that reconciliation beginning at the very start of the process must include representatives of a range of political parties and ethnic groups.”
She said the US also believed that Pakistan had a central role in this process and those interests must be respected and addressed. PTI