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Obama consulted PM on forming Af-Pak policy

December 02, 2009 15:59 IST

US President Barack Obama steered clear of Indo-Pak issues while unveiling his new momentous Af-Pak policy, but he consulted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while formulating his strategy.

As the new policy deals extensively with the issue of confronting terrorism, especially the hardline Al Qaeda, Taliban and other extremist groups, Obama personally made a telephone call to Singh on Tuesday to brief him about his new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The move is in tune with what Obama said, "India is indispensable" while welcoming Singh at the White House. It is also recognition of India's growing stature as a regional and global power.

In spite of pressure from Islamabad to exclude India from Afghanistan, the Obama Administration has been highly appreciative and supportive of New Delhi's role in Kabul.

Unlike six months ago, the Obama Administration now feels that there is no role for it in Indo-Pak relationship.

This is probably the reason why there is no reference to Indo-Pak relationship in Obama's speech, despite Pakistan's assertion otherwise.

"To lessen tensions between two nuclear-armed nations that too often teeter on the edge of escalation and confrontation, we must pursue constructive diplomacy with both India and Pakistan," Obama said in his March 27 speech, wherein he announced his new Af-Pak policy in less than 100 days in the White House.

Despite that the two leaders had extensive talks on this issue only a week ago, Obama made it a point to call Singh, along with select few world leaders to brief him on his new policy.

"The two leaders discussed the president's decision on the way forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They agreed on the need to confront terrorism and extremism as part of broader efforts in the region," Mike Hammer, spokesman of the National Security Council, White House, said.

In an interview to PTI last week, the National Security Advisor General (Retired) James Jones had said the core of the new Indo-Pak relationship is based on the fact that India is a rapidly rising country with full of hopes and aspirations for the future.

Obama Administration's view on Indo-Pak relationship was articulated by the president himself at a joint press conference with the prime minister at the White House last week.

"Obviously there are historic conflicts between India and Pakistan. It is not the place of the United States to try to, from the outside, resolve all those conflicts. On the other hand, we want to be encouraging of ways in which both India and Pakistan can feel secure, and focus on the development of their own countries and their own people," Obama said in response to a question.

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