US asks India to back Pak anti-militant battle
The United States called Monday on India to support rival Pakistan in rooting out extremism as Washington drafts a new "war on terror" strategy in South Asia.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg also said the United States backed a global role for India and hailed New Delhi's reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan, the source of unease in mutual neighbour Pakistan.
Steinberg delivered the first substantive remarks on India by President Barack Obama's administration, which is expected this week to unveil a new strategy on fighting Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I think it will be important for India to make clear that as Pakistan takes steps to deal with extremists on its own territory that India will be supportive of that," Steinberg said at the Brookings Institution.
He said India should "look for ways to contribute to an overall environment which can then lead to further efforts to root out extremists.
"There is obviously a complex history between the two countries but we will encourage India to see that it has a big stake in the efforts that we will be advocating to work both with Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said.
He did not go into specifics, but the US Defence Department has said that the Pakistan, suspicious of New Delhi, was sending troops to the Indian border that would be better used fighting extremists in areas bordering Afghanistan.
Tensions between India and Pakistan shot up after Islamic militants went on a bloody three-day rampage in Mumbai in November, killing 165 people. Pakistan has conceded the attacks were partly planned by extremists on its soil.
India and Pakistan, which both are nuclear armed, have fought three full-fledged wars since their separation at birth on independence from Britain in 1947.