Ahead of its first strategic dialogue with Pakistan, the United States has said it was “broadening and deepening” its relationship with both New Delhi and Islamabad and would keep encouraging them to increase their dialogue.
“I think we are satisfied with the level of engagement that we have across a wide-range of issues with the Indian Government,” State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on Tuesday when asked to comment about the upcoming dialogue with Pakistan just a week Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s visit.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did join Under Secretary of State Bill Burns in a meeting with Ms. Rao that was “charting the way forward on the US-India Strategic Dialogue,” he recalled.
“We’ll have a similar conversation with Pakistan this week on a wide range of issues from agriculture, water, and energy, economic development and finance, defence and security, social issues, and public diplomacy,” Mr. Crowley said.
“We are broadening and deepening our relationship with both India and Pakistan, and we certainly are looking for ways in which we can continue to encourage the two countries to increase their dialogue as well.”
Asked if U.S. was supportive of a gas pipeline deal signed last week by Pakistan and Iran, Mr. Crowley said it was a decision for Pakistan to make. But “our concerns about the role that Iran plays in the region and beyond is well-known.”
“We continue a wide range of discussions not only in the region but around the world in terms of the nature of future economic transactions between Pakistan and Iran, and we’ll continue that conversation,” he said. And “It could, sure” come up during the strategic dialogue on Wednesday.
The official said the US supported the Afghan Government’s interest in reaching out to members of insurgent groups provided they renounce violence, and have no ties to Al Qaeda.
“These are primarily issues between Afghanistan and insurgent groups as part of the reintegration and reconciliation process,” he said when asked about Sunday’s peace talks between Afghanistan President and Hizb-e-Islamic leaders, who have links with Al Qaeda.
“We do support the Afghan Government’s interest in reaching out to members of these insurgent groups. Our concern, shared by Afghanistan, is that they cease support for insurgency, live in accordance with the Afghan constitution, renounce violence, and have no ties to Al Qaeda or terrorist organizations.
“Any group that is willing to accede to those conditions can play a role in Afghanistan’s future.”