US asks India, Pakistan to support Afghan transition

November 19th, 2010 - 8:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, Nov 19 (IANS) In the “most significant change” in its Afghanistan strategy, the US has invited both India and Pakistan to support the transition process leading to the transfer of the war-torn nation’s security to Afghan forces by 2014.

“The process between now and then is focused on helping to strengthen Afghanistan’s government,” State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley told reporters Thursday, adding: “It has, obviously, benefits that accrue to other countries, including Pakistan, including India, and others.”

“So our strategy is a regional strategy, and we have invited countries, from Pakistan to India, to be engaged in and support this transition in Afghanistan,” he said.

“And that is perhaps the most significant change that we’ve put into effect over the last 18 months, almost two years, is to take it from being just about Afghanistan to being about the region as a whole.”

But Crowley assured that “We’re not going to abandon the region or we’re not going to abandon Pakistan or Afghanistan in 2014. We have a commitment to engage this region over the long term.”

“We are seeking a partnership with Afghanistan, with Pakistan. As you saw with the president’s trip to India, we believe we’re developing a strategic relationship with that country, and it demonstrates our commitment to the region as a whole,” he added.

Asked if the US would request India also to provide military or police training to Afghanistan, Crowley said: “I’ll defer to the Indian government in terms of what it envisions its support being.”

But the US has primarily talked with countries that are already a part of the International Security Assistance Force mission, he added.

Crowley also acknowledged that “India is significantly invested in Afghanistan and we continue to encourage the role that India is playing to help Afghanistan develop its economy and improve its security”.

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

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