ISLAMABAD - US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake flew to Pakistan from India on Wednesday ostensibly in a desperate bid to take Islamabad on board about outcome of the trilateral meeting of India, US and Afghanistan held in New Delhi on Tuesday.
According to the sources, the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs met separately with the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Secretary General of President Asif Ali Zardari, Mr. Salman Farooqi and exchanged views on the trilateral meeting on Afghanistan hosted by India.
“This is for the sake of transparency that Mr. Blake visited Pakistan and took the leadership on board”, a senior US diplomat confirmed while speaking on condition of anonymity.
He was of the view that since regional countries like India have important role to play in the stability and development of Afghanistan it was important to take Pakistan on board which has a key role to play in the region. In India, the trilateral meeting of the US, India and Afghanistan has reportedly discussed a host of issues relating to political, security and economic transition in Afghanistan besides specific cooperation projects. It is understood to have discussed ways to enhance cooperation to deal with common challenges and opportunities, including combating terrorism and violent extremism and increasing regional trade and investment.
The meeting came in the backdrop of the US’ announcement of withdrawing 34,000 American troops from the war-torn country in the next one year.
“Since India, Afghanistan and US share a common vision of a peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, this trilateral dialogue provides useful opportunity to state views on broad-based subjects that are critical for transition and transformation that are underway in Afghanistan,” YK Sinha, Additional Secretary (PAI) in the Ministry of External Affairs was quoted as telling to media persons. He said coordinated position based on strong conviction is “essential to ensure that we are all on the same page with respect to the situation as it unfolds in Afghanistan and the region”.
“In the agenda we have identified for main areas of discussion - political transition, security transition, economic transition and specific cooperation projects,” Sinha added.
Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin, Sinha and Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, Joint Secretary (Americas) from India and Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake from the US lead their respective delegations.
The first India-US and Afghanistan trilateral was held in the US last September during which the three sides had free flowing and frank discussion on all aspects of the situation in Afghanistan.
Coming within days of US President Barack Obama announcing the specific troop withdrawal plan for Afghanistan, the latest meeting focussed on its impact and future strategy.
Announcing that 34,000 American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan in the next one year, Obama showed confidence of ending a decade-long war by the end of 2014. The recent meeting hosted in the UK by British Prime Minister David Cameron for Presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan was also discussed during the meet.
Meanwhile, a senior US embassy official in an informal interaction with reporters warned Wednesday that there would be no progress in reconciliation process in Afghanistan until and unless Taliban abandoned ties with Al-Qaeda, adding that the US fully supports the Qatar process.