US to intensify regional diplomacy for stability in Afghanistan
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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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