Obama calls for Indo-Pak peace - 11-07-2010, 02:29 PM
Central & South Asia
Obama calls for Indo-Pak peace
US president calls for the two Asian nuclear rivals to reinitiate the peace process to bring stability to the region.
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2010 16:27 GMT
Barack Obama, the US president, has called on India to engage with Pakistan to improve relations between the two nuclear rivals that were inflamed by the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
This came amid India's concerns about Pakistan, as the presidential visit to India entered its second day on Sunday.
The relations between the two countries are key to US strategy to win the war in Afghanistan.
Obama said that Pakistan was not acting quickly enough to deal with militancy within its borders.
This view has been expressed time and again by many Indian officials who say that although Islamabad is taking aid from Washington, it is also backing militants in Afghanistan.
"I think the Pakistan government understands now the potential threat that exists within their own borders. There are more Pakistanis who've been killed by terrorists inside Pakistan than probably anywhere else," Obama said.
Responding to questions from students at a college in Mumbai, Obama was cautious but clear in saying that both [India and Pakistan] were needed to help stabilise Afghanistan where thousands of US troops battle militants.
Ayesha Siddiqa-Agha, an independent strategic analyst, told Al Jazeera that the fact that Obama is skipping Pakistan during his regional tour will be taken as an insult. She added, however, that relations between the two allies were already low.
"There is so much anti-American hatred, or displeasure in Pakistan, that Obama not visiting or visiting does not really make a huge difference," she said.
The Pakistan military will be "extremely unhappy" over Obama's announcement that a large quantity of US weapons will be sold to India.
"This will tip the arms balance in favour of India," she said.
Arrival in New Delhi
Barack and Michelle Obama, his wife, arrived in New Delhi later on Sunday, where they paid a visit to Humayun's Tomb, a monument built in the 15th century by the emperor Humayun.
Upon arrival in the Indian capital, he was met by Manmohan Singh, the country's prime minister, who broke normally strict protocol to personally welcome the Obamas at the airport.
On Monday, the president will be received at India's presidential palace. He is scheduled to visit Indonesia, South Korea and Japan during his 10 day tour.
"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 told students.
India has given $1.3bn in aid to Afghanistan, a policy that has been unsettling for Pakistan.
But India claims to want stability in Afghanistan to stop the country from being used to harbour anti-Indian religious groups.
"India's investment in development in Afghanistan is appreciated," Obama added.
"Pakistan has to be a partner in this process, in fact all countries in the region are going to need to be partners in this process. The United States welcomes that, we don't think we can do this alone."
Reporting from New Delhi, Al Jazeera's Prerna Suri said that, "It [the call for peace talks] hasn't come as a surprise to the Indian administration, they do see Pakistan as a wider strategic partner of the US as Americans do need them for an exit strategy."
Obama's first leg of a 10-day Asian tour has been seen as driving the US closer to India as Washington tries to revive a weak economy and gather support to pressure China on its currency.
Earlier on Saturday, the US president urged India to relax trade and investment barriers in order to boost economic relations between the two countries.
Obama, who is on a three-day visit to India, said the growing economic power must make "a steady reduction in barriers to trade and investment" in sectors from retail to telecommunications.
"New jobs and growth flow to countries that lower barriers to trade and investment," Obama said on Saturday at a business meeting in India's financial capital, Mumbai.
"As we look to India today, the United States sees an opportunity to sell our exports in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. For America this is a jobs strategy".
Al Jazeera and agencies
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