Give up obsession with India, Obama to tell Zardari

May 5th, 2009 - 10:55 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 5 (IANS) President Barack Obama is expected to press Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari again to give up its obsession with India as its main threat and instead focus on the armed threat from militant extremists.

“I think he will reiterate what he said to you guys last week,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday when asked if Obama would tell Zardari when he meets him Wednesday that “there’s no threat from India”.

“I think the President spoke pretty clearly to this last week in underscoring where the threat lies in Pakistan and where it doesn’t,” he said referring to Obama’s remarks at a press conference last week on his 100th day in office.

Obama suggested last week that one could “see some recognition just in the last few days” on the part of the Pakistani military “that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally.”

Asked if India is going to be consulted on this and if Washington could still play a mediator between New Delhi and Islamabad on Pakistan’s threat perceptions, Gibbs said: “Well, I think obviously some of those conversations are being had.”

“The President is concerned about the situation (in Pakistan). You’ve seen administration officials talk about their concern,” he said referring to remarks made among others by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen about the “crisis” in Pakistan in the face of advancing Taliban militants.

Obama, Gibbs said, would surely talk to Zardari about the security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, but wouldn’t say whether he would also bring up the question of how Pakistan spent $100 million allocated to it to better secure its nuclear facilities.

” I don’t know about the specific news that you mentioned. Obviously…the security of nuclear weapons in Pakistan and the security of nuclear material throughout the world is something that the President thinks is of the highest priority,” he said. ” I don’t doubt that will be mentioned, yes.”

At Wednesday’s summit with Zardari and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Obama will spend “a lot of time…trying to get the steps that we take moving forward right as it relates to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to finally have a regional approach, and ensure that the time that is spent and the resources that are spent go toward making a difference in this region of the world,” he said.

“We want a strong relationship with each of these two countries, we want an understanding that not just the United States faces security concerns, but each individual government has security concerns about extremists in the area,” he said.

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