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'India need not worry about US-China ties'

November 19, 2009 09:13 IST

Asserting that US has an equally important relationship with India as that with Beijing, a top Obama Administration official has said there is no need for New Delhi to be concerned over the reference to the Indo-Pak ties in a US-China joint statement.

"I don't think there needs to be any concern in India about what the president said in China. We have very important relations with China. But we have equally important relations with India," the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, told media persons at a news briefing.

"And I think that will come out very clearly during the course of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit next week."

Welcoming China's interest in helping to stabilise the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, Blake said the Obama Administration believe that China has important equities, particularly in Afghanistan, where they have very significant investments.

"As with most of the other countries in the world, we welcome China's participation in helping to stabilise that very important part of the region," he said.

As for Indo-Pak relationship, Blake reiterated the viewpoint of the Obama administration that it is for India and Pakistan to decide on the substance, scope and pace of their relationship.

"We have always said, in terms of Indo-Pakistan relations, that's really up to India and Pakistan to decide how and when and the scope of that," he added.

As friends to both of those countries, we have always encouraged both countries to meet and to try to narrow their differences, he said.

Blake said the initiative this time has to come from Pakistan. "I think the priority is for Pakistan to take action against the Mumbai suspects that it has in custody and again, just to make sure that there's not cross-border infiltration and that Pakistan is not used as a platform for terrorists to attack either India or other neighbouring countries," he said.

"I think Pakistan wants to do that, and they've consistently said that they want to make sure that Pakistan's territory is not used as a platform. So those are the kind of areas where we do have some -- we can play a role. But by and large on the bilateral issues facing their two countries, it's up to India and Pakistan to resolve those," Blake said.

Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Lalit K Jha in Washington