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US seeks India's help in Afghanistan

Published on: Monday, 6th April 2009 07:35 AM     By      Administrator

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The Barack Obama administration is determined to not repeat the mistakes made by the preceding George W Bush government. The United States President's team, which has outlined its comprehensive strategy toward Afghanistan, will not refer to it as nation building, though ostensibly that is exactly what it will be to a large extent. America is also hoping for greater support and assistance from India, which has already proved effective in Afghanistan in infrastructure development.

Senior administration officials acknowledged that US wants India to be a key stakeholder in the development efforts in this beleaguered country, where winning the hearts and minds of the populace will be imperative in the war against the al Qaeda, Taliban and other extremists elements.

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy Shyam Saran, during his visit to Washington, had expressed concern that the US may give up on Afghanistan. He added that the US policy in Afghanistan should not be restricted to fighting terrorism militarily, but countering this phenomenon through development of the country, as India had been doing.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, the Obama administration's point man for South Asia, told recently, during a conference call with a select group of journalists, that "we recognise India's strong interest in stopping terrorism in the region."

He also spoke about India's "important contribution in Afghanistan -- I think their total (contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan) is up to about $1.2 billion."

"They've been very instrumental in key areas like training, civil service, and helping build Afghan institutions. So, we see a continuing role for India and we certainly see a strong interest in India," he said.


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