Last Updated: Mon Nov 08, 2010 09:08 am (KSA) 06:08 am (GMT)

Obama urges dialogue between India and Pakistan

Obama backs a slow-moving dialogue process between the countries which is designed to build trust (File)
Obama backs a slow-moving dialogue process between the countries which is designed to build trust (File)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday urged arch-rivals India and Pakistan to work together to resolve their differences, while pushing Islamabad to do more to tackle extremism.

Speaking to college students in Mumbai, Obama said the United States "could not impose" a partnership between the two countries, but added fast-growing India would benefit more than any other nation from better ties with Pakistan.

"I am absolutely convinced that the country that has the biggest stake in Pakistan is India," he told students at the prestigious St. Xavier's College in south Mumbai.

 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 
US President Barack Obama

"If Pakistan is stable and prosperous, that's best for India."

He backed a slow-moving dialogue process between the countries which is designed to build trust and give leaders a basis for tackling the toughest aspects of their relationship, notably the divided territory of Kashmir.

"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," he said.

"There are more Pakistanis who've been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else," Obama said.

In due course, he said he hoped "there's a recognition that India and Pakistan can live side by side in peace and that both countries can prosper."

Slow progress

 I think that the Pakistani government understands the threat that exists within its own border 
Obama

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947 and suspended full peace talks after the deadly Mumbai attacks nearly two years ago, which left 166 people dead and more than 300 others injured.

The only surviving gunman has said the group was trained, equipped and financed by the banned, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with help from elements in the country's military and intelligence services.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and others in India complained on Saturday that Obama "missed an opportunity" to condemn Pakistan in his first speech after arriving in Mumbai.

Some Indians also question continued U.S. financial and military support for Pakistan, which they consider a rogue state.

Obama said that although Islamabad was making progress against what he called the "cancer" of extremism, it was not happening quickly enough.

"I think that the Pakistani government understands the threat that exists within its own borders," he said.

"Now, progress is not as quick as we would like," he added, explaining that the Pakistani military faced difficulties cracking down on extremists in the rugged northwest of the country close to the Afghan border.

The U.S. administration recognized that progress would not happen overnight, he added, saying they would continue to support Pakistan in its efforts.

"Our feeling has been to be honest and forthright, to say, 'We are your friend and this is a problem and we will help you but the problem needs to be addressed'," he said.

The White House also announced Obama would support India's membership of four global non-proliferation organizations.

Obama is scheduled later on Sunday to fly to New Delhi for a tour of a Mughal-era tomb and dinner with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Obama will also visit Indonesia, South Korea and Japan on an Asian tour that will see Washington push to prevent countries unilaterally devaluing currencies to protect their exports, a top theme at the Group of 20 heads of state meet in Seoul next week.

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