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'India a very important part of the US foreign policy'

June 04, 2009 14:26 IST

India is "very important" for America's foreign policy and crucial for the stability and peace in the region, an influential US lawmaker said on Thursday. "India is a very important part of the United States foreign policy," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is co-chair of the Congressional caucus on Pakistan and heads the Afghan caucus said at a panel discussion in Washington.

Lee, Democrat lawmaker from Texas praised India's growth as an economic power." India is also important from the perspective of its growing economy. I look forward to India being a growing partner of the United States not only on the issues of national security, but also on the issues of economics," she said.

Favouring a dialogue between India and Pakistan, she said, "Kashmir may be a long and on-going and controversial discussion... Now that Prime Minister, (Manmohan) Singh has won resoundingly... The dialogue that he started with President Pervez Musharraf was interesting. They began to open up the opportunities for the family members to be united. That was an important step."

Lee, who was recently in Pakistan, said that the world should acknowledge the difficult crisis the country is facing now. Besides Lee, Congressman Gerald Connolly also addressed the round table, along with Walter Anderson, noted South Asian expert, Peter Brooks, Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs and Chung Ju Yung Fellow for Policy Studies, Asian Studies Center Heritage Foundation. Congressman Connolly said Pakistan should not expect a blank cheque from the United States.

It is not in the US interest to provide substantial military aid to Pakistan that ends up ramping up Pak military against India. All such aid has to be targeted towards the Taliban and extremists, he argued. "It is not ok to release A Q Khan. It is not ok to cut deals with terrorists. It is not ok to use US military assistance to shore up its defense vis a vis India," Connolly said. The panel discussion on Pakistan was organised by USAsian, an advocacy group for Asians of Indian and Asian origin.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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