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US never propped up India against Pakistan: Gates

Source: PTI
February 08, 2010 15:23 IST
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The United States has dismissed Pakistani perceptions that it was propping India, saying that New Delhi "did not need us for that purpose" and has advocated that the two neighbours resolve their differences bilaterally.

"I would tell you that the United States clearly has not or has ever propped up India. India has not needed us for that purpose and, in fact, those familiar with the history would know that our relationship with India was fairly strained until not too many years ago," Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.

Gates comments came in response to questions fired at him during his recent visit to Pakistan, full transcript of which have released by the Pentagon.

In his exchanges with Indian and Pakistani leaders, Gates said both the countries had said they would like to resolve the differences bilaterally.

"Having an open and candid and completely transparent dialogue... seems to be the best way to avoid misunderstanding," Gates said in key remarks as New Delhi and Islamabad are set to resume their stalled bilateral talks.

He said there were misgivings both in Islamabad and New Delhi on the role the two countries were playing in Afghanistan and it was essential that in any future dialogue such a misunderstanding should be cleared.

He also suggested that India and Pakistan could deal with the suspicions through back channel discussions.

Though both Islamabad and New Delhi saw no role for third party intervention in their bilateral dialogue, the US defence secretary said, "If we can be of any help and if the two parties want us to be of help, we will do what we can. We are prepared to play a constructive role, but only if both parties want us to be involved."

Gates said US had made it clear that terrorist outfits like the Taliban in Afghanistan, Taliban in Pakistan, the Al Qaeda, Haqqani network and the Lashkar-e-Tayiba were working together which is a common threat to "US, Pakistan, Afghanistan as well as India."

"There has to be a level of cooperation in countering the terrorist threat in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and others to prevent the terrorists from doing exactly what their objective is.

"Believe me, there should be no mistake; these terrorists want to destabilise Pakistan. They would like to see Pakistan become an extremist state and that is their objective. And if they think they can provoke a conflict with India, that's what they will try to do," he said.

"All I was saying when I was in India was we all have to work together to prevent that kind of an outcome. We all have a common enemy. We all have a common purpose," he said.

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