Engage India more for resolving Afghanistan crisis: Sen Kerry

August 2nd, 2010 - 1:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, Aug 2 (IANS) An influential US senator has suggested that the Obama administration engage more with India and Pakistan for a political resolution in Afghanistan as US officials acknowledged New Delhi’s stakes in the region.

“I personally would say no, I don’t think troops are the answer,” John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN Sunday when asked if the new US commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, asked for more troops.

“The answer is a political resolution and that political resolution has to come about by engaging to a greater degree with India, with Pakistan itself,” said Kerry who has played a key role in shaping the Obama administration’s Afghanistan-Pakistan policy.

“But I think we should also engage China, Russia, and I would say to you that the possibility could exist even of Iran playing a role in helping to change the equation on the ground,” the former Democratic presidential candidate said.

In a separate talk show, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen also acknowledged India’s vital stakes in the region noting New Delhi is more than just concerned with the overall outcome in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“There’s a regional approach here and certainly India, which is where Prime Minister (David) Cameron spoke from,” he told NBC referring to British premier’s warning to Pakistan to stop exporting terrorism to its neighbourhood.

“India is certainly more than just concerned with the overall outcome here,” Mullen said noting that terrorists have safe havens in Pakistan that cause the US great problems in Afghanistan as well.

“That we are anxious to have that addressed is well known. So this isn’t going to turn overnight,” he said.

In many ways Pakistan is working with the US, the top US military commander said suggesting Islamabad was making a “strategic shift” in regard to its spy agency ISI’s known selective support to terrorist groups.

“Certainly the focus on changing the strategic shift if you will in that agency so that that doesn’t happen at all is a priority for us,” he said.

The main goal in Afghanistan is to prevent it from again becoming a safe haven for Al Qaeda, Mullen said making clear that a hard fight remains to enable the Afghan government to defeat Taliban insurgents who harboured al Qaeda in the past. ”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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