December 17, 2009

"India has a role to play as a strong US ally"

United States believes India has a role to play as a strong U.S. ally and partner across a range of global challenges, from economic dislocation to energy security, climate change, the spread of deadly weapons and terrorism. The blocks on the road of the civilian nuclear deal between states and India is also nearing to clearance.
In an exclusive interview Hyderabad – Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said the both countries feel that they have a significant opportunity now to take the strategic partnership to the next level. Blake said the US and India are working very closely, especially after the 26/11, in confronting the common enemy.
On nuclear deal, Blake said that both countries are making good progress though still certain things are to be done. Some negotiations are going on and things are moving in right direction.
On why US is insisting on third party mediation on Kashmir issue, Blake categorically denied it and added that the matter has to be bilaterally solved between the two countries.
Interestingly, United States does not want India to involve in security issues of Afghanistan as it may lead to complications in the South Asian region. However, the civilian help extended by India is well appreciated by the states. Blake who is in-charge of South and Central Asian Affairs in the State Department maintained that 1.2 billion dollar assitance from India in civilian sector in Afghanistan is appreciated as India is working closely in Afghanistan’s development.
To a question on US softening its stand on Taliban, he said in his judgment many Taliban fighters were opportunistic and not fighting out of any conviction. They are fighting because Taliban are paying them better remuneration than they could get from agriculture or other occupations. Therefore, if the livelihood opportunities with higher returns could be developed, they would give up fighting.
"The threat to American troops and the Indian contractors and workers in Afghanistan is coming from Tahreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP) that is based in Swat, South Waziristan and Queta. Pakistan has to make concerted efforts to tackle this danger", he said.The US is helping Pakistan, the same way it is doing with Afghanistan, in improving the security situation, educational and health facilities and build up economic opportunities so as to lure away people from falling into the hands of militants. For this reason, it is giving that country a heavy annual dose of $1.5 billion in civil aid, he explained.
Blake was in Hyderabad over the weekend. He had arrived in the city via Chennai after a visit to Sri Lanka. A senior career diplomat, he has served in India and Sri Lanka before being appointed as Assistant Secretary of State.