US to help improve India-Pakistan relations in ‘due time’

May 7th, 2009 - 10:31 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 7 (IANS) In a cryptic remark, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the Obama administration would unfold its plans to improve ties between India and Pakistan in “due time”.

“Well, everything in due time,” she told reporters Wednesday when asked what action Washington was taking to help improve relations between the two South Asian neighbours given that it looks at Islamabad’s India obsession as a big problem in the fight against Taliban.

Later asked to elaborate Clinton’s remark at a White House briefing on her meetings with Presidents Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Barack Obama’s spokesman pointed out that Obama had “brought this up proactively in the news conference last week.”

“Obviously given the security challenges ahead in Pakistan, the president believes and the administration believes focusing on the security challenges within the country that are being posed right now make a lot more sense than stockpiling troops on the border,” Robert Gibbs said.

At his 100th day press conference Obama had said that Pakistan’s military leadership was beginning to recognise “just in the last few days 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 after the trilateral summit meetings, the administration expected to be any closer to an agreement on the fundamental issue of getting the Pakistani army to move its troops from the Indian border, Gibbs said: “I think that process or that discussion is likely to come up in these meetings.”

Obama had made clear “his feeling on the priority that currently exists in Pakistan,” Gibbs said. “…But I don’t want to minimise that this is a complex, multi-layered problem.

“This is not a - there’s not a one-step solution to dealing with the challenges in this region or in either of these countries,” he added.

At the State Department too spokesman Robert Wood repeated the formulation that the US had “made very clear to them that the existential threat to Pakistan comes from the Taliban, not India.”

“The existential threat is coming from within and across the border - on the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that’s where Pakistan needs to focus its efforts.”

Asked if the US would take into account India’s concerns that proposed billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan may be used to help terrorist groups conduct activities in India, Wood said: “We’re going to make sure, to the best of our ability, that this money does not go in the aid of terrorist groups.”

In response to another question whether the US would ask India to pull back troops from its border with Pakistan as suggested by the Pakistani ambassador, Wood said: “I am, of course, not going to talk about discussions we may - or the substance of any discussions we have had or will have.”

“But it’s very clear. And, I think the Pakistani government understands what it needs to do to deal with the real threat that it faces, and that real threat is not coming from India.”

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