Regional diplomacy high priority in Af-Pak region: US

US appreciated India`s work in agricultural assistance in Afghanistan.

Updated: Dec 20, 2010, 10:12 AM IST

Washington: Regional diplomacy will be United States` top priority in efforts to eliminate the threat of al Qaeda and Taliban in the Af-Pak region, and the country also sees the importance of partnering India in counter terrorism efforts, a White House official has said.

"One of the key components of the President`s new strategy (on Af-Pak) has been to address the question and the issues of Afghanistan in regional context," Mike Hammer,
spokesperson of the National Security Council, said.

He said eliminating the al Qaeda threat certainly requires a strong partnership with Pakistan and talking to countries like India about the importance of maintaining
stability in the region.

The Obama Administration would continue to have a very active diplomatic effort in the region, he said.

"We will continue to have a very active diplomatic effort in talking to our partners in South Asia about what needs to be done to combat terrorism and eliminate al Qaeda
and other terrorist threats in the region.

"That is a high priority for the United States," Hammer said in response to a question.

"Maintaining stability (in the region) is a high priority, as we confront these problems," he said.

The United States is very much interested in developing a strong partnership with India in counter terrorism.

"This was something that was highlighted during the President`s visit to India," he said.

The Obama Administration appreciates what India has done in terms of agricultural assistance in Afghanistan, Hammer said, adding the US is looking to see how the two
countries can work to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan.

"There are number of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) partners, OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) involved and we look to other regional partners
like India or Pakistan about these issues. But we are not looking for anything in specific.

"We are obviously looking to have discussions and see how best we support the Karzai government as it tries to go forward to eliminate the threat from al Qaeda and Taliban and
provide greater stability," he said.