India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner for the US that can help modernise Afghanistan both politically and economically, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today. Tillerson’s remarks came after President Donald Trump unveiled the US strategy in Afghanistan which included expanded authorities to target terrorists.
“India is emerging as a very important regional strategic partner with the United States, and has played an important role supporting the Afghan government and in particular supporting their economy,” Tillerson told reporters. He also praised India’s role in Afghanistan. “India has provided development assistance. They’ve provided economic assistance. They are hosting an important economic conference in India this next week. All of that is important to stabilising Afghanistan as a nation,” he said.
“Get their economy functioning, stabilise the country so that they can provide more opportunities to their citizens. These are all elements of what will lead to stability and ultimately a peace agreement,” he said. Responding to a question, the Secretary of State sought the help of India in changing Pakistan’s behaviour. “It is important that Pakistan begin to think about its ability to contain these groups as well. It’s why, though, we take a regional approach. The US alone is not going to change this dynamic with Pakistan,” he said.
“India and Pakistan, they have their own issues that they have to continue to work through. But I think there are areas where perhaps even India can take some steps, a rapprochement on issues with Pakistan to improve the stability within Pakistan and remove some of the reasons why they deal with these unstable elements inside their own country,” Tillerson said.
According to the Secretary of State, other regional players have strong interest in Pakistan. “China has strong interest in Pakistan. Having a stable, secure future Pakistan is in a lot of our interests. They are a nuclear power. We have concerns about their weapons, the security of their weapons. There are many areas in which we believe we should be having very productive dialogue that serves both of our interests and regional interests as well,” Tillerson said.