Obama urges ‘risen’ India to begin dialogue with Pakistan (Second Lead)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

MUMBAI - Sharing New Delhi’s perception that progress by Islamabad in tackling terror was not quick enough, US President Barack Obama Sunday nudged India to begin a dialogue with its neighbour, saying New Delhi has the biggest stake in a successful and stable Pakistan”.

Obama, however, ruled out any mediation by the US in bilateral issues between India and Pakistan, an intervention Islamabad has been lobbying hard for quite some time.

“My hope is that over time, trust develops between the two countries, that dialogue begins, perhaps on less controversial issues, building up to more controversial issues,” Obama said at the St. Xavier’s College here in response to a question from a female student.

Obama, who had shunned any mention of Pakistan in his speech Saturday at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel before survivors of the 26/11 carnage, underlined that it was in India’s interest to remove the “distraction” of insecurity, a euphemism for Pakistan-origin terror, in the region when it was moving ahead on the global economic stage.

“Obviously, the history between India and Pakistan is incredibly complex and born out of much tragedy and violence. It may be surprising, but I am absolutely convinced that the country which has the biggest stake in Pakistan’s success is India,” Obama said.

“If Pakistan is unstable, that’s bad for India. If Pakistan is stable and prosperous, that’s good because India is on the move,” he added.

Obama is expected to discuss the situation in Pakistan and ways of dealing with extremism flowing from that country when he meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for talks in New Delhi Monday.

He, however, rejected any attempt at mediation.

“India and Pakistan can prosper and live side by side, this will not happen tomorrow but needs to be the ultimate goal. The US can be a partner but cannot impose this process. India and Pakistan have their own understanding,” he said.

When he was asked the question on Pakistan, the US president quipped: “I was expecting this.”

Answering a query on why Pakistan had not been declared a terrorist state, Obama admitted that although “progress (in tackling terror) is not as quick as we like,” Pakistan was an “enormous country” which was a “strategically important country not just for us, but for the world”.

He felt that while the Pakistani people had “enormous potential”, it was a country with extremist elements within its territory.

“We will work with the Pakistan government to eradicate extremism which is a cancer that can engulf the country. We think that the Pakistan government understands the potential threat that exists within the borders,” said Obama.

He acknowledged that some elements in Pakistan that are affiliated with the Taliban, the Al Qaida and the LeT are “irreconcilable” and said there needs to be a military response in a “significant, ongoing” way against those who perpetrate violence like they did in Mumbai and New York.

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