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India's role in Pakistan is tricky, says US

May 29, 2009 14:29 IST

India must be wary of Pakistanis who are trying to enter the county for nefarious reasons, a senior United States diplomat has said, during the first ever web-chat on popular social networking site Facebook.

"India must be wary of those Pakistanis seeking to enter India for nefarious reasons, but the signal India sent -- openness to a better relationship with peace-loving Pakistanis -- was a powerful psychological message," said Gregg Sullivan, director of press and public diplomacy for the State Department's Bureau of South and Central Asia.

"As India engages with Pakistan on levels other than terrorism and security, it can have a salutary effect on the entire relationship," Sullivan said in the Facebook web-chat on Indo-US relations. A copy of the transcripts of the chat on May 26 was made available on Wednesday.

The Obama administration has utlising social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to people across the globe to spread its message and views.

India, he said can play a constructive role in the Afghanistan-Pakistan issue and has already been doing so with respect to Afghanistan in particular, by undertaking massive development-related work in that country.

"Obviously, the Indian role in Pakistan is trickier, but India can be commended for a number of steps it has already taken," he said.

Sillivan said both India and Washington have a common vision for a peaceful, terrorism free South Asia. "We recognise that we will have to work together to fulfill that vision," he said.

Responding to a question on Kashmir, the official said this is an issue between the Indians and Pakistanis, but it must take into consideration the 'wishes and needs' of the people of Kashmir.

When specifically asked about the Obama administration's reaction on a military response by India against terrorism in Pakistan, he said, "The circumstances involved are really important and could and would change any reaction we would have."

More importantly, the US does not want to see the resumption of armed conflict between Pakistan and India due to the grievous harm it would cause to both populations. "This is why we push for intelligence cooperation as a better solution so attacks can be prevented before a plan is put into motion," he said.

The State Department has scheduled a series of web chats on Facebook in the next few months on various South Asia countries - Pakistan (June 9 and July 21), Sri Lanka and Maldives (June 23) and Nepal (July 7).

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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