Following New Delhi's strict no to third party intervention in Indo-Pak affairs, the United States appeared to tone down its stand on involving Beijing in the issue

Asserting that the United States has an equally important relationship with India as that with Beijing, a top Obama Administration official has said there is no need for New Delhi to be concerned over the reference to the Indo-Pak ties in a US-China joint statement.

“I don’t think there needs to be any concern in India about what the president said in China. We have very important relations with China. But we have equally important relations with India,” the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told reporters at a news briefing.

And I think that will come out very clearly during the course of the Prime Minister’s visit next week he told reporters at a news briefing.

Welcoming China’s interest in helping to stabilise the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, Mr. Blake said the Obama Administration believe that China has important equities, particularly in Afghanistan, where they have very significant investments.

“As with most of the other countries in the world, we welcome China’s participation in helping to stabilise that very important part of the region,” he said.

As for Indo-Pak relationship, Mr. Blake reiterated the view point of the Obama Administration that it is for India and Pakistan to decide on the substance, scope and pace of their relationship.

“We’ve always said, in terms of Indo-Pakistan relations, that’s really up to India and Pakistan to decide how and when and the scope of that,” he added.

As friends to both of those countries, we have always encouraged both countries to meet and to try to narrow their differences, he said.

Mr. Blake said the initiative this time has to come from Pakistan. “I think the priority is for Pakistan to take action against the Mumbai suspects that it has in custody and again, just to make sure that there’s not cross-border infiltration and that Pakistan is not used as a platform for terrorists to attack either India or other neighbouring countries,” he said.

I think Pakistan wants to do that, and they’ve consistently said that they want to make sure that Pakistan’s territory is not used as a platform. So those are the kind of areas where we do have some — we can play a role.

“But by and large on the bilateral issues facing their two countries, it’s up to India and Pakistan to resolve those,” Mr. Blake said.

When a reporter asked: “Are you of the opinion that China cannot really play a role in improving the bi-lateral relations between these two countries?” Mr. Blake responded:

“Well, again, that’s up to those three countries to sort out.

“I mean, it’s not really for me to try to make pronouncements about that. You clearly denied that there is any role for China in improving India-Pakistan relations.”

“But if you look at the joint statement that was issued, after the talks on Wednesday, it clearly mentions that role and also says that you expect China to play a role in preventing Afghanistan and Pakistan from becoming a base for terrorism,” another reporter asked.

“I would like to correct you. I didn’t deny it. I said that China has a very important role to play and that they have important equities.”

And like many of the other countries that we’re seeking — that we’re consulting with, we think that it’s important to get the views of China on this very, very important question,” Mr. Blake said in his answer.

“As I say, they have major investments in China, and we value their advice. And they also have important stakes in the stability of Afghanistan.

So it’s only natural that we would consult them about what’s going on them,” Blake said, to which another reporter sought clarification if he meant China’s role in Afghanistan or its role in India and Pakistan.

“Well, both. I mean — and we want to — we want to get their views on both of the countries and, again, solicit their advice, just as we would with friends like India,” Mr. Blake said.

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