US wants India to continue constructive role in Afghanistan

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Washington, Aug 31: Ahead of the US-India-Afghanistan trilateral talks scheduled at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in September, Washington said it wanted New Delhi to continue its constructive role in Afghanistan.

After visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry announced in New Delhi on Tuesday (Aug 30) the restart of the trilateral talks following the Second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, State Department spokesperson John Kirby said the scheduled discussions were "important and they are going to continue". [Have you come in boats, Kerry asks IIT students]

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"And I think what matters is that, as the Secretary said, those discussions are important and they are going to continue," Kirby said in the daily press briefing here on Tuesday.

"And he talked about the constructive role that India has played inside Afghanistan and wanting to see that -- see that role continue. So we're focused on the future here."

In a joint press interaction with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi after the bilateral Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, Kerry said the trilateral talks would be held to "reaffirm our mutual roles as central players on behalf of security and progress in the region".

"I want to thank India for the important contribution that it has been making in Afghanistan," Kerry said.

Among the major projects India has completed in Afghanistan in recent times are a new wing of the parliament inaugurated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kabul on December 25 last year and the reconstructed Salma Dam, renamed Afghan-India Friendship Dam, operationalised in June this year.

Kerry also indicated that terror attacks on Afghan territory from across the border might figure in the trilateral meeting.

"Clearly it is in India's interest as it is in Afghanistan's interest and our interest and Pakistan's interest, frankly, to have a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that is no longer under siege from the Taliban or from any other group that tries to use its territory to propagate terror," he said.

"So our hope is to be able to strengthen all of the efforts that we have been deeply engaged in for a long period of time through these talks and perhaps even to find the ways, ultimately, to explore the possibilities of a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which is something we have also been seeking through various efforts to engage the Taliban, I might add, under the auspices and leadership of the Afghan government."

In this connection, Kirby, in his briefing said: "We all recognise the continued security threat that is posed by the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups that operate inside Pakistan and along that border between Afghanistan and Pakistan".

"There is a constant conversation that we are having with our Pakistani partners about the threat posed by Haqqani and by other extremist groups there in the region and certainly operating inside Pakistan," Kirby said.

IANS

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