US encourages India to play greater role in Afghanistan

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In the wake of Pakistan’s failure to deliver on the promises it has been making with regard to the peace process, the US is now considering a larger role for India in Afghanistan. “We certainly do appreciate the support that India’s given for the people and the government of Afghanistan including trade ties, security, development assistance, and India’s role in promoting a stable and prosperous region,” said Mark Toner, State Department Deputy Spokesman. In fact, the US has never opposed India from playing a significant role in Afghanistan but the White House has been very sensitive to Pakistan’s objections, particularly on security-related issues. The US has welcomed India’s efforts in reconstruction, development and institution-building in Afghanistan. However, at Pakistan’s pressure, the US has kept India out of the Afghanistan peace negotiations, which are now a four-nation initiative of the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“I think that’s ultimately what we would always encourage in terms of India’s involvement is that, it’s good for the region, it’s good for the prosperity of the region, it’s good for the economy of the region, and good for the political stability of the region,” Mr Toner said.

US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson was in New Delhi last week to meet with the Indian officials to discuss support for the government of Afghanistan and security forces, as well as the Afghan Army peace process. State Department statement said, “Mr. Olson’s visit was an opportunity for US officials to express appreciation for India’s support for the people and Government of Afghanistan, including trade ties, security and development assistance, as well as India’s key role in promoting a more stable and prosperous region”.

India has already assured all possible help to Afghanistan in achieving its vision of an independent and prosperous nation. Earlier, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while addressing the “Heart of Asia” summit in Islamabad last year said that terrorism in that country has grown in both intensity and scope in the last few months and that India was ready to work with the Afghan government to strengthen its defensive capability.

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