‘US and India have been targets of extremists’

Top American diplomat in Singapore noted India`s significant investments in Afghan reconstruction and its long-term partnership agreement with Afghanistan.

Updated: Jul 20, 2012, 19:40 PM IST

Singapore: Noting that both countries have been targets of "violent extremists", top American diplomat in Singapore on Friday said India and US will have to continue to engage Pakistan to make South Asia peaceful and prosperous.

"The United States also believes that India has a critical role to play in confronting global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, human rights and nuclear proliferation.

"Both India and the United States have been targeted by violent extremists," US Ambassador David Adelman said in a lecture at the Institute of South Asian Studies, a think tank of the National University of Singapore.

Adelman noted India`s significant investments in Afghan reconstruction and its long-term partnership agreement with Afghanistan.

He continued: "We welcome initial steps that India and Pakistan have taken to normalise trade relations, which are crucial to Pakistani efforts to improve its economy and counter extremism within its borders".

Adelman pointed out that the American and Pakistani troops have a common enemy in al-Qaeda, and a shared objective in supporting Afghanistan`s security.

On broad-based issues, Adelman highlighted the importance of India`s strategic shift to "look east".

"Both India and the United States recognise the strategic and economic significance of the waterways that connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and the necessity of protecting freedom of navigation," he stressed.

Officials from both the United States and India were working through multilateral institutions such as the East Asia Summit to build a regional architecture that would boost economic growth, settle disputes peacefully, and uphold universal rights and norms, he said.

"Indeed, we look to India to play a bigger role in ASEAN and the East Asia Summit as a means of strengthening ties between East Asia and South Asia," said Adelman in comments on President Barack Obama`s approach on South Asia and South East Asia. Adelman said the areas of mutual benefit and cooperation between the US, South Asia and Southeast Asia have manifested themselves most clearly in greater economic integration, fewer barriers to international trade and investment and strengthened bilateral and multilateral agreements.

He also listed recognition of the critical importance of a coordinated international response to violent extremism and other shared global challenges.

The Ambassador also highlighted the importance of the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue which was launched in May 2012 as part of US focus on South Asia.

Bangladesh represents one of the largest development assistance commitments that the Obama Administration has made, leading to a fall in poverty, and in maternal and infant mortality, he said.

Bangladesh would geographically serve as a land bridge for trade between the Asia-Pacific region and South Asia, especially given the reforms underway in Burma, Adelman said.