US encourages India's assistance to Afghanistan
Robert Blake, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, delivered the remarks a week ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to New Delhi and Chennai. Clinton will lead a high-level American delegation for the second US-India strategic dialogue. Afghanistan will be one focus of the talks, Blake said.
At an event jointly organized by the East West Center and India-US Global Affairs Institute, Blake said the United States wants India to continue its developmental work in Afghanistan and help it emerge as the commercial link link between South and Central Asia. This, he observed, is essential Afghanistan’s long-term economic independence.
“I think the areas we're going to be particularly focused on this year will be our cooperation to help Afghanistan to support this very important transition process that is underway, to support the regional economic integration of Afghanistan into both Central Asia and South Asia, and how both the United States and India can help in that regard,” Blake said in response to a question.
The US official praised Indian efforts in Afghanistan. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said recently that he had a very successful visit to Afghanistan where he pledged to raise Indian assistance to the country to $2 billion.
The United States, he said, is fully committed to supporting that transition process, but also to helping Afghanistan build up its economy so that it can rely more on trade and less on aid. “So we have a very important role to play in that and India has a very important role to play,” he said.
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