| GEO Pakistan|
| US supports Pak-Afghan direct talks: envoy|
| Updated at: 0900 PST, Monday, July 26, 2010|
WASHINGTON: The United States on Sunday renewed its support for Pakistan-Afghanistan dialogue toward better ties and common peace and stability objectives, with a top diplomat saying that the American policy in this respect, which also takes into account regional considerations, is moving forward.
“That is a good thing, not a bad thing. As long as they had no dialogue, you could not get anywhere,” Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for the region emphasized.
He was commenting on the recent talks between Pakistani and Afghan leaders including the Kabul meeting between Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Hamid Karzai.
Holbrooke, who spoke in the backdrop of recent progress in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations including conclusion of a trade agreement between the two neighbors, faulted the previous Bush Administration for not making successful effort at promoting Pak-Afghan ties.
“Now, in the Kayani-Karzai meeting, the American commanding general of ISAF, NATO was there, then General McChrystal. I’m sure General Petraeus (the current US commander) will continue to play the same role, if not more so. And I have talked to David (Petraeus) about that,” he said, appearing in CNN’s GPS program.
Elaborating the Obama Administration’s policy, which, he said, is the only one that meets Washington’s interests the special envoy said, “We have a policy here which is try to reduce the gap between Islamabad and Kabul, a historic gap, which goes back to the independence of Pakistan 63 years ago - and to make them work together for a common objective while taking into account the strategic interests of India and other regional neighbors. And that is moving forward.”
“It is a tough difficult policy. But it is the only one that meets our regional, international and national security interests.”
In answer to a question about Pakistan’s cooperation and change in attitude vis-a-vis combating the Taliban, Holbrooke told anchor Fareed Zakaria, a prominent Indian-American journalist, that “you cannot just go after the Pakistanis to do this and do that in the tribal areas.”
“You have to have an entire approach to the country. This has been lacking for over a decade,” he pointed out.
Holbrooke’s remarks referred to the recent progress in U.S.-Pakistan cooperative relations in wide-ranging areas in contrast with unifocal security-driven nature of ties the two countries had had in the past.
Continuing, Holbrooke added, the United States is now “approaching the country differently. And we are beginning to see real signs of movement. Nonetheless, we still have problems.”