India ready to discuss anything with Holbrooke

January 30th, 2009 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) India is ready to discuss any issue and share its views on regional stability with US special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke when he comes to the region next week, officials said. “We are hoping to welcome Holbrooke. We will be happy to tell him our views,” official sources said here.

“There is a huge level of congruence between India and the US on dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the sources said while underlining New Delhi’s comfort level with the new Obama administration in Washington.

Holbrooke will travel to South Asia after attending a security conference in Munich, Germany, acting State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in Washington Thursday. Although his schedule has not been set, he is expected to travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He may also come to India to get a fix on New Delhi’s views on dealing with Pakistan and Afghanistan, which US President Barack Obama has termed as the “central front” in the fight against terror.

There were apprehensions in India that Holbrooke’s brief may include India and Kashmir, but the decision of the Obama administration not to include Kashmir in the special envoy’s terms of reference brought much relief to New Delhi. The deletion is seen as a diplomatic concession by the new US administration to bolster strategic ties with India and seek its cooperation in promoting regional stability.

Early this week, the state department spokesman clarified Kashmir was not part of Holbrooke’s mandate.

“His mandate is to go out and try to help bring stability to Afghanistan, working closely with Pakistan,” Wood said. “India has some very clear views as to what it wants to do vis-a-vis dealing with the Kashmir issue, as well as the Pakistanis.”

When asked whether Holbrooke would play a role if there were heightened tensions again over the Mumbai attacks, Wood said: “I don’t want to speculate in terms of what he may or may not do, but his brief is focused solely on, as I said, Afghanistan-Pakistan.”

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