US asks India, Pak to work towards stable ties

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India’s role in Afghanistan and relations with Pakistan is going to be on Blinken’s agenda during his visit to India, reports Hamza Ameer

Just before the all-important visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to India and other destinations of South Asia and the Middle East, the US has issued a statement, encouraging arch-rivals India and Pakistan to work for a more stable relationship.

Blinken is scheduled to visit India and other countries between July 26-29 in what is being said is an important tour in reference to the developing situation and increasing Afghan Taliban control in Afghanistan.

As per Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Affairs Dean Thompson, Blinken would be discussing different options for what he called a “negotiated settlement” in Afghanistan.

Blinken is going to be landing in New Delhi on July 28 and is scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As per details, India’s role in Afghanistan and relations with Pakistan is going to be on Blinken’s agenda during his visit to India.

“We strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves. Washington would continue to encourage better ties between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbours,” said Thompson.

“We are pleased to see that ceasefire that went into place earlier this year has remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward,” he added.

The US played an important role in engaging both Pakistan and India to come down to an agreement and abide by the 2003 ceasefire after backdoor meeting between top military leadership of both countries in the Middle East.

On the other hand, the US seems to have keen interest in engaging India in seeing its increased role in Afghanistan, especially after the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

“We expect that all the countries in the region have a shared interest in a stable and secure Afghanistan going forward. We will certainly be talking to our Indian partners about how we can work together to realise that goal, to find ways to bring the partners together, and continue to pursue a negotiated settlement to the longstanding war,” said Thompson.

Interestingly, Blinken’s visit does not include a visit to Islamabad. However, the Biden administration has invited Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Faiz Hameed to Washington during next week for talks with the American counterparts.

Quad, defence ties to top Blinken’s agenda

Discussions on deepening Quad engagement will a key focus area of talks, with possibility of a Foreign Ministerial Quad meeting later this year. Both sides will also take forward Quad vaccine initiative to enable supply of vaccines produced in India from early 2022, to countries in Indo-Pacific region, sources said.

On the regional security situation, implications of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan on terror financing and terror havens, will be part of the agenda.

The two sides will also exchange assessments about the Indo-Pacific region, with focus on Covid assistance, economic slowdown and security scenario. Latest developments pertaining to West Asia and Central Asia area also likely to be covered, sources said.

Climate change remains an important area of our conversation, particularly potential for green collaborations as well as climate finance and transfer of clean technologies to developing countries.

India will also engage with the US on other global issues. Political and cultural rebalancing are important trends. India supports a truly multipolar, democratic and diverse world order and expects international conversations to reflect this evolution. “We believe in equity and fairness, whether in development, climate change or global decision-making,” sources said.

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