Obama appreciates India`s role in Afghanistan

Last Updated: Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 21:18

Mumbai: Ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which Afghanistan situation is expected to come up, US President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed India`s reconstruction efforts in the war-torn nation amid his assertion that a "stable Afghanistan is achievable".

He reiterated that the US will start withdrawing its
troops from Afghanistan from next year but made it clear that
all the American forces will not be pulled out immediately as
such a step would depend on the situation on the ground.

"India`s investment in the development of Afghanistan is
appreciated... I do think that there are lessons that India
has to show to not just countries like Afghanistan but
countries in sub-Saharan Africa," Obama said during an
interaction with students of St Xavier`s College here.

Citing the example of India`s achievements in agriculture
sector, he said such experiments could be replicated in rural
Afghanistan and even if farm produce in that country increased
by 20 per cent it would go a long way in helping the nation.

While talking about India`s positive role in Afghanistan,
the US President underlined that all the countries of the
region, including Pakistan, have to share the responsibility
of bringing about stability in that nation.

"Pakistan has to be a partner in this process (of
bringing about stability in Afghanistan). In fact, all
countries of the region need to be partners in this process
and the US welcomes them. We don`t think that we can do this
alone," he said, asserting that "a stable Afghanistan is
achievable".

His comments came on the eve of his meeting with Singh
when the two leaders would be exchanging notes on the
situation in Afghanistan.

India has invested 1.3 billion US dollars in Afghanistan
and is undertaking a number of developmental and
reconstruction projects there.

Obama was asked whether his decision to withdraw forces
from Afghanistan from next year reflected acknowledgment that
the US was not winning the war.

"When we went in seven years ago, Kabul was intact but
rest of the country was deteriorating and we have been largely
able to correct that. But, we don`t want to be in the same
situation seven years from now," he said.

He reiterated the decision to pull out troops from
Afghanistan from July 20111 but said complete pullout would
depend on "military issues and politics".

Disagreeing with comparison of Afghanistan campaign with
that of Iraq campaign, Obama said institutions in Afghanistan
had not developed completely and civil service and police
forces needed to be strengthened further before they can take
charge.

He supported Karzai government`s efforts to reach out to
Pashtun and Taliban cadres who delink themselves from Al-Qaida
but made it clear that those who refuse to dissociate would be
dealth with firmly.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 21:18

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