Firmly ruling out mediation between India and Pakistan, Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke has said the U.S. would support the two countries if they decide to resume the talks but was not willing to play the “role of a midwife.”

He also said Pakistan should not see Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the U.S. as a “diminution of the importance we attach to them.”

His comments came hours before Dr. Singh was to meet President Barack Obama at the White House where the two leaders are expected to take their strategic relationship to a new level.

The remarks also came a week after Indo-Pak relations found its way into the Sino-U.S. joint statement issued after talks between Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

India took strong objection to the reference and had made it clear that it is not ready to accept “guardianship” of anybody, whether China, the U.S. or any other country, even if mild-handed.

Mr. Holbrooke said fanning differences between India and Pakistan was not justified because the two countries “live side by side and have to live together” and the U.S. wanted to help them both.

The U.S., he said, was seeking to improve relations with all three countries in the South Asian region, India, Pakistan and China.

“Every country will benefit from improvement in the area,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

Mr. Holbrooke said the U.S. had consulted “no other country more closely than Pakistan” on Afghanistan because no other country was more directly linked to it.

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