US lawmakers push for aggressive diplomacy in South Asia

December 1st, 2008 - 12:45 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaNew York, Nov 30 (IANS) Top US lawmakers Sunday pushed for aggressive and effective US diplomacy in South Asia to prevent the further escalation of tensions between Pakistan and India as a consequence of the Mumbai terrorist attacks that have killed 183 people, including six Americans.Appearing on various Sunday talk shows, these top law makers, cutting across party lines, were worried that the escalation of tension between the two nuclear-power South Asian neighbours, would not only endanger its soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, but also badly hit its war against terrorism.

With Afghanistan being a top foreign policy priority for the upcoming Barack Obama administration, these lawmakers also welcomed the idea of the president-elect appointing a special envoy for mediation between the two countries.

“We’re going to have to move very rapidly ourselves, the United States of America, to make certain that our forces in Afghanistan, quite apart from whatever we’re doing in Iraq, are protected, while the rest of this goes on, with two very high-level countries,” Senator Richard Lugar told the ABC News on its popular weekend show ‘World This Week’.

“Our presence there is going to be very important,” said Lugar, who is a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Pushing a strong diplomatic initiative from the US now, Lugar said: “Everybody could have suspicions, at this point. My point is diplomacy may try to unravel some of this, to try to keep things afloat.”

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday”, Senator McCaskill said: “We’ve got to have aggressive and principled diplomacy between these two countries.”

A senior member of the Armed Services Committee, McCaskill said in order to keep Americans safe, the US need to make sure that “we hold Pakistan accountable for the terrorist training activity that’s ongoing to Pakistan”.

The US has been giving Pakistan a lot of financial aid to root out terrorism within their borders and frankly they haven’t been as accountable as they need to be for those dollars, he argued.

“So we need to continue to strengthen these relationships and do everything we can to make sure these two countries work out these differences in a way that does not involve a full-scale military conflict,” he added.

Democratic Senator Jack Reed said on ABC News channel: “If there’s a strong indication, on both sides, that they’re moving together, and that we can play a productive role, yes. But I think you have to have the building blocks in place.”

Another senior Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill told FOX News: “The Obama administration is very focused on making sure that we do not have a full-blown conflict between Pakistan and India. Obviously, the Kashmiri border has been a sticking point for these two countries for a long, long time.”

McCaskill said the Obama national security team is going to be looking at how the US can strengthen the entire region and continue to focus on where the terrorism threats are.

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