US Praises India's 'Huge Role' in Afghanistan

Washington, Jun 19 (IANS): In the face of reported Taliban praise for India for standing up to the United States over the situation in the war-torn Afghanistan, the US has appreciated India's "huge role" and support there.

"We are pleased with the support that India is giving to strengthen security, stability, prosperity in Afghanistan," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday in response to a question about the Taliban comment.

The US was also appreciative of "the economic support that it's giving; the support that it's giving to the Afghan National Security Forces, including in police training," she said.

Nuland, who said she had not seen the Taliban's comments about New Delhi's role, noted: "India has joined us in calling for Afghan-Afghan reconciliation and a process to do that."

"I'm not aware that anybody has asked India to play a direct role in that, though."

Asked if there was a discussion between India and US at their strategic dialogue here last week about New Delhi playing a larger role in Afghanistan after the 2014 drawdown of US led forces, Nuland said: "Well, India is playing a huge role."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had taken note of India's "some $2 billion worth of investment" she said. "We're also encouraged by the East-West Road Project that India is sponsoring, which we think can play a strong role in increasing trade and investment across the region."

"We've encouraged the police training programme. So all of these things are good steps and they help knit the region together in a democratic direction."

The US itself has done a lot of work with Afghan forces, Nuland said suggesting, "There have been manifest improvements in the security situation there, and now we're in the process of turning many of those areas over to Afghan leadership, in line with the 2014 process."

The Taliban's rare praise of India came in a commentary on its English language website. Calling India "a significant country in the region," it said Indians were well aware of the "aspirations, creeds and love for freedom" of the Afghan people.

Observers in New Delhi saw the commentary as an attempt by the Taliban to assure India that it need not worry about the return of the militia to Kabul despite its close ties with Pakistan.


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Title: US Praises India's 'Huge Role' in Afghanistan

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