Obama lauds India’s Afghanistan investment (Lead)

November 7th, 2010 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Mumbai, Nov 7 (IANS) US President Barack Obama Sunday appreciated India’s efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and also backed talks with Taliban elements interested in a dialogue to bring peace to the war-torn country.

“India’s investment in the development of Afghanistan is appreciated,” Obama said in a reply to a question by a student during an interaction at the St. Xavier’s College.

Expressing confidence that “a stable Afghanistan is achievable”, the US president said: “I do think that there are lessons that India has to show to not just countries like Afghanistan but countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Allaying fears of Pakistan about India’s alleged interference in Afghanistan, Obama said: “Pakistan has to be a partner in this process (of reconstruction). In fact, all countries of the region need to be partners in this process and the US welcomes them. We don’t think that we can do this alone.”

India has invested $1.3 billion in a variety of projects in Afghanistan that has caused much resentment in Pakistan as Islamabad fears that New Delhi’s growing influence in that country posed a threat to its interests.

The US, Obama reiterated, would begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan from July 2011 but a final decision on a total pullout would be “determined by military issues and politics”.

“I have said that starting July 2011, we will begin reducing troops levels. But we will not be removing all our troops,” Obama said.

“When we went in seven years ago, Kabul was intact but rest of the country was deteriorating and we have been largely able to correct that. But, we don’t want to be in the same situation seven years from now,” he added.

He also spoke of the need to “give space and time for Afghan security forces to develop”.

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