Reduce tension: Obama tells India, Pak
US President Meets Singh, Gilani
Washington, Apr 12: President Barack Obama has assured India that the US is ‘engaging’ Pakistan on the issue of trans-border terrorism and shares New Delhi’s concerns over the militant outfits plotting attacks on Indian cities. However, President Obama also called for reducing Indo-Pak tensions.
According to Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, President Obama during his meeting with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, also expressed full support for India’s request for access to David Coleman Headley, a key plotter of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Obama’s assurances on India’s key concerns came at a 50-minute bilateral meeting Sunday at Blair House, the presidential guesthouse across the road from the White House, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought US support in tackling ‘the menace of terrorism’.
‘Terrorist onslaught in our region, if it persisted, could affect our growth prospects,’ Manmohan Singh told Obama at their first meeting since they met at the first state dinner of the Obama presidency in November last year.
Reminding Obama that terrorism ‘was an issue on which India and the US stood on the same side,’ Manmohan Singh focused on the volatile situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan and stressed ‘how this menace would determine the future of the South Asian region.’
The White House, however, in a brief statement on the talks merely said ‘they also discussed a number of regional and global issues, including counter-terrorism and non-proliferation’ without naming either Pakistan or Mumbai attacks.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan and their shared vision for a strong, stable, and prosperous South Asia, it said.
The meeting took place on the eve of the Nuclear Security Summit that aims at securing the world from loose bomb-making materials.
Manmohan Singh began his four-day visit to the US Sunday, his sixth visit to the country during his prime ministerial tenure.Rao said the prime minister took up the issue of Headley, the activities of LeT and its founder-ideologue Hafiz Saeed and Ilyas Kashmiri.
He also pointed out continuing militant incursions across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. On India-Pakistan relations, when Obama said the US favoured reduction of tensions between the two countries, Manmohan Singh again stressed the need for Pakistan to take convincing action against those involved in Mumbai attacks.
‘TIES WITH PAKISTAN GO BEYOND SECURITY’
Pledging ties with Pakistan to go ‘far beyond security issues’, President Obama has said he is ‘very fond’ of the country he had visited during his college days.
‘President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan, having visited the country during college,’ Associated Press of Pakistan quoted a White House statement as saying after a 40-minute meeting between Obama and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit.
The two leaders also reaffirmed the ‘positive relations’ between the US and Pakistan, senior American and Pakistani officials said.
The US-Pakistan relationship was ‘of significant importance because of the shared values of our countries and the fight we are both engaged in against extremists operating in South Asia’, the statement said.
Obama also noted that ‘our multi-faceted and long-term strategic relationship goes far beyond security issues’, the statement added.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Obama vowed to take US-Pakistan bilateral relations to ‘unprecedented heights’ during the meeting.
The two leaders discussed the progress made during their March 24-25 strategic dialogue, while Obama reiterated the US pledge to work with Pakistan to address issues of mutual concern in the long-term relationship.
Indicating his approval of the progress made during the strategic dialogue, Gilani hoped that the working groups that have been established to address various aspects of the relationship would yield progress in advance of the next meeting, scheduled for late 2010 in Islamabad.
Gilani noted that his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit ‘comes at a time when popular support for the US-Pakistan relationship is growing’, the White House statement added.
Obama also reaffirmed confidence in the security of Pakistani strategic assets, Foreign Minister Qureshi told Pakistani journalists.
The US president said Washington had no ‘sinister’ designs towards Pakistan’s nuclear programme and expressed satisfaction with the steps Islamabad had taken to protect its assets, Qureshi added.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 12 Apr 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 12 Apr 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 13 Apr 2010 00:00:00 IST
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