Iranian oil, Afghanistan top agenda for U.S.-India talks

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The U.S. wants India to play a bigger role training Afghan security forces.

“There is a recognition that the Afghan security forces can benefit from training inside India,” U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell said at the Center for American Progress on Friday.

India has committed more than $2 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since 2001. It helped build the Parliament building in Kabul, is building roads and training Afghan officials, and will invest billions of dollars to develop the Hajigak iron ore deposit 60 miles west of Kabul.

India and Afghanistan also signed a strategic partnership agreement last fall.

Enter Pakistan

“We are doing the best we can in the circumstances,” said Ronen Sen, a former Indian ambassador to the U.S. “We could have done more if transit facilities had not been denied by Pakistan.”

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since winning independence from Britain in 1947, is suspicious of India’s role in Afghanistan.

“If there is not some understanding reached between Pakistan and India, there will be no long-term stability in Afghanistan,” said Karl Inderfurth, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs.

India fully recognizes that at some point India and Pakistan must find a way to discuss Afghanistan’s future and each country’s mutual interests and suspicions of the actions of the other.”

The Obama administration, which is developing a defense strategy that involves focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, sees a key role for India.

“Defense cooperation with India is a linchpin in this strategy,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a speech in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The Obama administration has proposed a U.S.-India-China dialogue to allay concerns in Beijing that the new defense strategy represents an attempt to contain China’s rise.

Economy and trade

The U.S.-India relationship is marked by opportunities and challenges, particularly on the economic side.

“It is no secret that there are some challenges now in India in terms of moving forward with the economic reform program,” Mr. Blake said.

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About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen

Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.

Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.

 

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