`Bush admin tried to reduce Indo-Pak tension`

WikiLeaks docs says Burns told Mossad chief US` economic ties with India were growing.

Washington: In an August 17, 2007 meeting with the Israeli Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, then US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Nicholas Burns, told him the Bush administration is working to reduce tension between India and Pakistan and that USA`s economic relationship with India is growing.

"Turning to India, Under Secretary Burns noted that US-Indian economic cooperation is growing, and that the USG (US Government) is working effectively to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan," said a State Department cable which is basically minutes of the meeting between Dagan and Burns on a wide range of issues including the situation in South Asia.

The minutes of the meeting, as reflected in the cable, released by WikiLeaks, reveals that the Mossad chief had alerted US about the possible downfall of the then Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf.

"Dagan said that President Musharraf is losing control, and that some of his coalition partners could threaten him in the future. The key question, Dagan said, is whether Musharraf retains his commander-in-chief role in addition to his role as president," the cable reported.

"If not, he will have problems. Dagan observed that there has been an increase in the number of attempts on Musharraf`s life, and wondered whether he will survive the next few years," it said.

"Under Secretary Burns replied that South Asia has assumed vital importance in American foreign policy since September 11.”

The US is committed to denying Afghanistan as a safe-haven for Taliban and al Qaeda activity.

The USG will continue to support Pakistani president Musharraf, and is seeking to boost his military defensive capabilities.

“At the same time, the US is encouraging Pakistan and Afghanistan to work with each other militarily," the State Department cable said.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, in a meeting with visiting National Defence University delegation in May 2005 pushed the US to supply F-16 to Pakistan, even if this being opposed by India.

In fact, Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) went on to congratulate Washington for its decision to allow US firms to bid for contracts to provide F-16s and other defence technology to Pakistan.

"It was important to support Musharraf as he battled the terrorists, he emphasised," the cable said.

"While the Indians had and would continue to balk at the decision, the region needed Musharraf to stay strong. There was no alternative leader in sight, MbZ opined.”

“Besides, he continued, the F-16 decision would not tip the military balance between India and Pakistan," it said.

"Even if it had, India`s strength as a stable democracy would ensure that it would not ever be in as `risky` a situation as its neighbour. MbZ then slapped his knee and said you`ll never guess what Musharraf asked me.”

"He asked me whether the UAE had received approval for the Predator!" (Note: The USG`s inability to meet the UAE`s request for an armed Predator remains a sore point for MbZ, although he has not directly raised the issue with us for some time.)," the cable said.