US to intensify regional diplomacy for stability in Afghanistan

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 18:14

Washington: US plans to intensify its
regional diplomacy in 2011 by involving key countries of the
Asian region as part of its goal to involve them in
establishing "long-term peace and stability" in Afghanistan
and Pakistan, according to a report on the Af-Pak strategy.

India, whose developmental role in Afghanistan has
been highly appreciated by the US and other countries, is
expected to be involved in a big way in any resolution of the
conflict.

While there is no mention of India in the five-page
overview of the report provided to the media, it is evident
that the US wants India to play a major role in achieving its
goals in Afghanistan.

"In 2011, we will intensify our regional diplomacy to
enable a political process to promote peace and stability in
Afghanistan, to include Afghan-led reconciliation, taking
advantage of the momentum created by the recent security gains
and the international consensus gained in Lisbon," says the
overview of the Af-Pak policy annual review conducted by the
White House.

President Barack Obama had announced the Af-Pak policy
last year as he unveiled a 30,000-strong troop surge to
Afghanistan, amid plans to bring back US troops by next July
in a conditions-based drawdown. He will unveil the first
annual Af-Pak policy review report later tonight.

Prime Minister`s Special Envoy S K Lambah was in
Washington early this month holding a series of talks with the
top officials of the Obama Administration, including Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom
Donilon.

Lambah made a telephonic call to Clinton a day after
the sudden death of the Special US Representative for
Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

A State Department spokesman said Lambahs call was a
follow up to the earlier meeting. However he did not divulge
any details about it.

For the first time after 9/11, India and the US have
decided to identify joint projects in Afghanistan where they
can work together.

This was also reflected in the joint statement issued
by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Obama when the
latter visited India last month.

Since 2001, India has contributed more than USD 1.3
billion in development aid and has undertaken numerous
infrastructure projects, including roads, dams, power stations
and the Afghan Parliament building in Kabul.

"Through its aid efforts, India is feeding millions of
Afghan schoolchildren, helping to provide power to the
citizens of Kabul, and ensuring thousands of Afghans receive
access to quality health care around the country," said a fact
sheet issued by the White House.

Following their meeting in New Delhi, Obama and Singh
had agreed to collaborate closely to assist the people of
Afghanistan by identifying opportunities to leverage our
relative strengths, experience and resources.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 18:14

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