Citing continued threat posed by terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday asked the world community to stay engaged there and not to think about “pre-mature exit” as it could embolden terrorists.

Dr. Singh, who will be meeting and discussing with President Barack Obama on Tuesday the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, said India and the US needed to do more in cooperation in counter-terrorism.

“One thing that I would like to say is that we greatly welcome and support the commitment and involvement of the world community to promote peace and stability in progress in Afghanistan,” Dr. Singh said at the US India Business Council in response to a question.

“I sincerely hope that the world community will have the wisdom to stay engaged in that process and premature talk of exit would only embolden the terrorist elements who are out to destabilize not only our part of the world but the civilized world everywhere,” he added.

The Prime Minister, after an address to the Council, was responding to a question by former US Defence Secretary William Cohen who wanted to know what more “natural allies” and “strategic partners” India and the US could do together for security and stability in South Asia.

Cohen, while noting that the US recognises India’s vital contribution to security and stability in South Asia, underlined the importance of sharing intelligence which was critical in dealing with the security of both India and the US.

Responding, Dr. Singh said India and the United States enjoy “excellent cooperation with regard to sharing of intelligence and sharing of information relating to terrorist activity” but more needed to be done.

“We cannot be satisfied with the status quo and in the course of two days that I am here I will explore with the US government what more can be done by our two countries working together,” he said.

Cohen, Defence Secretary in the Clinton Administration, also appreciated Dr. Singh for his “courage” to ensure that Civil Nuclear deal was passed by Parliament and it became reality.

“I would like to say on behalf of the United States without your courage and your willingness to put your Government on the line it never would have happened,” he said.

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