US strategy envisages role for both India, Pak in Afghan transition: Crowley

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Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): As part of its regional strategy, the United States has invited both India and Pakistan to be engaged in and support the transition in Afghanistan, where it will take greater responsibility for its own security, a top US official has said.

During an FPC Briefing on current global issues and events, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs, Philip J. Crowley, said, "We are seeking a partnership with Afghanistan, with Pakistan. As you saw with the President's trip to India, we believe we're developing a strategic relationship with that country, and it demonstrates our commitment to the region as a whole."

When asked what 2014 meant for Pakistan and Afghanistan in terms of US' long-term engagement towards these two countries, and what the US hoped to achieve in the "broader South Asian region between now and 2014 in - especially with reference to tensions between India and Pakistan so that Afghanistan does not slide back into regional rivalry and tensions," Crowley said, "Certainly, both 2011, which we envision as the beginning of a transition, where Afghanistan will take greater responsibility for its own security, culminating in Afghanistan leadership in its own security matters by 2014. It's important to Afghanistan, it's important to the region."

"And the process between now and then is focused on helping to strengthen Afghanistan's government, both at the national level and at the local level, building up critical institutions that include both military capabilities and police capabilities. This has the ability to help continue the transformation of this region. So it has benefits for Afghanistan, but as Afghanistan stabilizes, it has, obviously, benefits that accrue to other countries, including Pakistan, including India, and others," he added.

The official continued, "And as you build up institutions and they perform, you can expect to see improvements in the Afghan economy and the export of Afghan goods to other countries in the region. So our strategy is a regional strategy, and we have invited countries, from Pakistan to India, to be engaged in and support this transition in Afghanistan."

He also said that the US will "not abandon Pakistan or Afghanistan in 2014. We have a commitment to engage this region over the long term and we believe that we are demonstrating - and one of the things that will come out of the NATO summit is a - we think a partnership declaration that will demonstrate NATO's long-term commitment to Pakistan. And from that, we would expect more definition in terms of the long-term relationship between the United States and Afghanistan."

On being prodded over the issue of Kashmir, Crowley said, "We continue to encourage dialogue between Pakistan and India on this vitally important question. And we are supporting both countries in trying to find a way to discuss this issue and defuse tensions and ultimately resolve this issue."

Ruling out any US intervention, he said that the Kashmir dispute has to be resolved only by India and Pakistan.

"Fundamentally, we haven't changed our view of its importance. But ultimately, this has to be an issue that is resolved, first and foremost, between those two countries. And we will continue our dialogue with both India and Pakistan to encourage a resolution," he maintained. (ANI)

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