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Holbrooke here,to ‘listen’ to India

Having spent the past week in Afghanistan and Pakistan,Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke arrived in New Delhi...

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: February 16, 2009 11:55 pm

Having spent the past week in Afghanistan and Pakistan,Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke arrived in New Delhi on Sunday night for what is being the called the US’s first diplomatic visit since the new administration took over.

Barack Obama’s Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan has meetings scheduled with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee,and the importance attached by New Delhi to his visit can be gauged from the fact that Mukherjee has given him time just after the Interim Union Budget is presented.

Holbrooke will also have one-on-one meetings with Foreign Secretary Shivshanker Menon and National Security Advisor M K Narayanan.

US State Department’s Action Spokesman Robert Wood has called the visit a largely “orientation trip”,saying Holbrooke is not carrying “any messages to any of the governments from either the Secretary or the President and he’s not going there to lecture. He’s going there to listen.”

According to sources in the Government,he wants to listen to ideas which India has on what more it could do in the region in the development sector. New Delhi has made it clear that the role will have to be non-military.

With Pakistan admitting to the plotting of the Mumbai terror plot from its soil while Holbrooke was visiting the region,Mukherjee is expected to ask the Special Representative to “keep up” the pressure on Islamabad. New Delhi believes it was no coincidence that Obama’s phone call to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari preceded the country’s public acknowledgement that 26/11 was set in place from its soil.

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