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Improve trade ties with India: US Senators to Pak

Last updated on: April 15, 2010 12:49 IST

A bipartisan US Congressional delegation, comprising of influential lawmakers who recently visited Pakistan and Afghanistan, have asked the leaders in Islamabad to focus on improving trade relationship with India and building people-to-people contact.

"We urged them to make sure that they sought better relations with India, especially along the lines of trade," Congressman Rob Wittman told reporters at a news conference on their return from the region.

The Congressional delegation included Senators Tom Carper, John Ensign and Scott Brown.  "We see an opportunity there. The trading relationship between Pakistan and India is 140th in the world and we see a great opportunity there for better relations through trade. So we encouraged them to develop those trading relationships there. We think those are the basis of establishing a much higher level of relationships when it comes to other issues," Wittman argued.

"So we encouraged them along those lines, too, to do more with India, to make sure that we reach out through them to engage India as a partner in the long-term," the Congressman said in response to a question.

"When they do that, I think they're better able to address these issues of extremist groups that may have a tendency to be more supportive of India, or in some instances on the Indian side, more support of Pakistan," Wittman said.

The Congressman said the delegation got the sense that the Pakistani leadership realised that in order to make sure the long-term stability in their country is secured and maintained that they have to go after all forms of extremism.

"So we got a good sense that they understand those things," he said. Senator Ensign said: "India has always something that is in the back of their mind, not in the back of their mind, but in the forefront of their mind. But they have very much of a focus now on the Taliban because they see that as a direct threat to the governing of their country."

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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