Holbrooke meets Indian leaders, agrees Taliban is a major threat to US, S.Asia

February 16th, 2009 - 8:19 pm ICT by ANI  


New Delhi, Feb.16 (ANI): US President Barack Obama’’s Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, met National Security Advisor M.K.Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, and was reportedly briefed about the situation prevailing in South Asia from an Indian perspective.
Holbrooke told reporters here after his meetings that he was in New Delhi to seek the Indian leadership’’s assessment of the situation in the region and to brief the latter about his visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively.
Referring indirectly to the Taliban and al Qaeda, he told reporters: “For the first time in 60 years, your country, Pakistan and the US all face an enemy that poses direct threats to our leaderships, our capitals and our people.”
He said this common threat comes from developments in Pakistan’’s remote Swat Valley, where the Taliban virtually calls the shots.
“I do want to underscore the fact that what happened in Swat demonstrates a key point, and that is that India, US and Pakistan all have a common threat now,” he said. Swat, located just 160 km from Islamabad, is virtually being run by the Taliban who have given a tough time to the Pakistani military and kidnapped several people, including foreigners for release of their cadres.
The Indian leadership is also said to have discussed the evidences that it had collected on the November 26, 2008 attacks on Mumbai with Holbrooke.
Monday’’s discussions on the issue came almost a week after Pakistan admitted the attacks were partly planned on its soil and said the suspects it had arrested could be prosecuted there.
India has been urging the international community to put pressure on Islamabad to bring the perpetrators and attackers of the Mumbai carnage that claimed 179 lives to justice. It is also insisting that Pakistan must not allow terrorist activity to flower from its soil.
Holbrooke is visiting the region to study the latest situation to enable Washington to shape its policy towards Pakistan and India.
The US has made it clear that Kashmir is not on the agenda of Holbrooke’’s visit and would not be discussed during his stay in New Delhi, allaying concerns here that the US could try mediation between India and Pakistan on the issue.
On being asked why Holbrooke was going to New Delhi, US State Department spokesman Robert Wood was quoted as saying last week, “India is an important country in the region and has interest in Afghanistan.”
“In essence this is an orientation trip. He’’s not carrying any messages to any of these governments from either the Secretary (of State) or the (US) President. He’’s not going there to lecture. He’’s going there to listen,” Wood added.
Holbrooke would report to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama once he returns to Washington. (ANI)

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