WASHINGTON - As the Obama Administration begins drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan next month, India has informed the US that it would not be involved in the security affairs of the war-torn country, but would continue with its developmental efforts there.
This was conveyed by Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his interaction with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the National Security Advisor Tom Donilon yesterday when he discussed with them the situation in India's immediate neighborhood.
"We do not want to get involved in the security affairs of Afghanistan," Mukherjee said in response to a question at the media round table giving an insight into his talks with Clinton and Donilon.
Mukherjee, who left for India via New York this afternoon after a three-day trip, was leading a high-powered Indian delegation for the second India-US Economic and Financial Partnership. "We discussed the overall situation, shared our perception, our relationship of strategic partnership. We discussed the geopolitical situation, what is happening in our neighborhood, what we could do," he said.
"USA is interested that there should be dialogue between India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. India should also play a pro-active role in Afghanistan. We discussed these issues and the problems as we look at," the Finance Minister said.
President Barack Obama last week ordered withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, with 30,000 soldiers leaving initially, a process that would continue until the Afghans take over the security in 2014.
The US troop withdrawal will see a first group of 10,000 soldiers brought home this year and another 23,000 by the end of September 2012, two months before American voters decide whether to give President Barack Obama a second term.
"I informed NSA and the Secretary of State that we had resumed dialogue process with Pakistan some time back. Actually it began at the margin of SAARC summit at Thimphu. It was advanced further when Prime Minister invited Pakistani Prime Minister Mr Gilani to watch the cricket match at Mohali," Mukherjee said.
Dialogue has taken place at various levels and next month the Pakistani Foreign Minister is scheduled to visit New Delhi for talks, he said. "Therefore the important ingredient of the structured dialogue has started at the different levels of the secretaries," he said.
Referring to the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Afghanistan, he said during the visit the Prime Minister announced an additional USD 500 million for Afghanistan. "We are mainly engaged in Afghanistan on building of capacity in different areas, in particularly in areas of social sectors. We are also helping them in infrastructure sector," the Finance Minister said.
Mukherjee said Clinton would be visiting India in the month of July to carry out the Strategic Dialogue. (PTI)