Indo-Pak peace dialogue extremely important: Pentagon

Washington, Mar 16: The resumption of peace talks between India and Pakistan is extremely important for peace in the region, including Afghanistan, a top Pentagon official has said.

"We have actually been very heartened by the fact that India and Pakistan are resuming their own dialogue on a number of disputed issues, whether from Kashmir to counterterrorism, humanitarian issues, trade and so forth. So we think that dialogue is extremely important," US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said in her testimony before the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.

Early this month, Flournoy had led the high-powered Pentagon delegation for the India-US Defense Policy Group (DPG) meeting. Flournoy had also been instrumental in shaping the Af-Pak policy of the Obama administration.

"I think Pakistan, in particular, views so many issues in the region through the prism of its relationship with India. So getting at some of those root problems between the two of them is one of the most important initiatives that can happen in the region. So we are being as supportive of that as possible," she said.

Flournoy said she thinks that America's success in Afghanistan will be a calculus - changing event for many actors in the region who've spent many years hedging.

"The fact of that stability and that success will force a recalculation by a whole number of parties that will have to reckon with that and may choose to approach that reality differently than and change some behavior that we''ve seen in the past," she said.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy was responding to questions from Senator Mark Udall on India Pakistan relationship.

"We have been hearing for quite a while that the Pakistani leadership is unwilling to abandon support for the Taliban because they view it as a hedge against possible future Indian influence in Kabul. India, of course, denies any such ambitions," he said.

"In the context of our new strategic partnership with India, do you think that there are any new openings to engage New Delhi in a more positive political solution that might reassure Pakistan?" Udall asked.

"If you can tie in the extraordinary energy resources of the Central Asian states with the very rapidly growing economy of the subcontinent, you have to go through Afghanistan to do that and then tie into Pakistan and India," said General David Petraeus, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

"That's obviously beneficial for all of the countries in the region, but it obviously requires a degree of economic cooperation to take place between India and Pakistan in particular that has been elusive so far because of the context in which they''ve been seeking to do this," Petraeus said.


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