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US Envoy Urges India, Pakistan, Afghanistan to Cooperate on Regional Security


A top U.S. envoy said India, Pakistan and Afghanistan need to work together to protect regional security, and counter the threat posed by militant groups like al-Qaida. New Delhi was the last leg of a regional tour that took U.S. envoy, Richard Holbrooke to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

After holding talks with senior Indian officials on Wednesday, Richard Holbrooke, told reporters that the region faces a common threat, a common challenge and a common task.

Holbrooke, stressed the need for India, Pakistan and Afghanistan to cooperate to defeat the menace of terrorism.

"But now that we face a common threat, we must work together. And in the center of that area is Pakistan, and we are working intensively with our friends in Pakistan to achieve a common goal. We know it is going to be difficult," he said.

"But the national security interests of all three countries are clearly at stake. The administration which we represent is committed to this. We are going to do it, but it is going to be difficult," he added.

Holbrooke is special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is his first visit to India since President Obama proposed substantial development assistance to Pakistan, but said that Islamabad must make greater efforts to crush extremist groups in return for the aid.

There is some unease in India that this strategy fails to take into account what New Delhi sees as Islamabad's backing of Islamic militant groups.

Holbrooke denied reports that the United States is pushing India for a resumption of a peace dialogue with Pakistan. New Delhi put the talks on hold after blaming Pakistan-based militants for last year's terror attacks in Mumbai.

Holbrooke's statement came amid speculation in the Indian media that Washington is asking the two countries to mend relations and restart the talks.

"We did not come here to ask the Indians to do anything. We came here to inform them of our trips, as we always do and to get their views. We did not come with any requests," he said.

He praised India's involvement in development projects in Afghanistan, saying they will help stabilize the region.

Holbrooke came to the region accompanied by U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff. Both stressed that India plays a crucial role in maintaining stability in South Asia.

Holbrooke's visit to India came just a week before the country heads into general elections.

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