January 20th, 2010 20:35 EST
Robert Gates: India & Pakistan Have Stake In Afghan Success
By Donna MilesNEW DELHI, Jan. 20, 2010 " Both India and Pakistan have a big stake in what happens in Afghanistan, and are playing significant roles to support the effort there, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today.
American Forces Press Service
Still, it`s critical that both countries maintain full transparency to allay each other`s suspicions, Gates told reporters following a meeting here with Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony. Gates appeared to discount the notion that India contribute troops to serve in Afghanistan.
The kind of support " and extraordinary support " that India is providing in Afghanistan now is really ideal, " Gates said. It is significant support, " about $1.3 billion for power, medicine, agriculture and education projects.
India is willing to do more, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna told Gates during meetings yesterday, a senior defense official who attended the sessions told reporters on background.
The offer, however, came with a caveat in light of sensitivities regarding neighboring Pakistan.
India will offer more assistance, but only if ISAF, [the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan] and the United States think it would be helpful, " the official said Indian leaders told Gates.
Let`s be honest with one another, " Gates told reporters today. There are real suspicions in both India and Pakistan about what the other is doing in Afghanistan. And so I think each country focusing its efforts on development, on humanitarian assistant, perhaps in some limited areas of training " but with full transparency for each other in what they are doing " will allay these suspicions and frankly, create opportunities to provide bigger help for the Afghan government. "
Gates said it`s important to recognize the magnitude of the threat the entire region faces " with al Qaida and its various splinter groups that form a terror syndicate. "
Their operations are intended to destabilize, not just Afghanistan or Pakistan, but the entire region, he said.
A victory for one is a victory for all, " he said.
Facing up to this requires a high level of cooperation among us all, " Gates said.
While visiting Washington in November, Singh joined President Barack Obama in signing a memo of understanding committing to closer counterterrorism cooperation.
Gates` talks here focused on bolstering India`s role in promoting security in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire South Asia region, while deepening counterterrorism cooperation and expanding an already-robust military-to-military relationship.
India can be an anchor for regional and global security, " he said.
During today`s news conference, Gates called his visit here another step toward expanding the two countries` defense relationship within the framework of a broad strategic partnership.
Gates said he has been struck by how much the U.S.-India relationship has grown, and the many opportunities to continue to build on that foundation.
During Gates` sessions here, he emphasized that the United States` commitment to India and the entire region is long-term.
We intend to be a productive part of regional security development and economic develop and political development in the future, " a senior official said Gates told the Indian leaders. We intend to be involved in the region for a very long time. "
The message resonated very well " with Indian leaders, he said.