Ahead of US special envoy Richard Holbrooke's talks with Indian officials on Monday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said US President Barack Obama has assured New Delhi that he has no desire to play a mediatory role in resolving the Kashmir issue.
"President Obama and the American Administration told us over and over again that they have no desire to play a mediatory role on issues concerning India and Pakistan," Rao told Karan Thapar in The Devil's Advocate to be aired on CNN-IBN Sunday night, excerpts from which were made available in advance by the channel.
She was responding to a question on whether Obama was looking to play a more assertive role in sorting out Kashmir than India would be willing to accept.
Rao also ruled out any chances of Washington linking Kashmir to unrest in Afghanistan, a position that Islamabad is trying to hardsell to Washington.
"I am not worried about that because the US is fully sensitised to our concerns on these issues. They consulted us closely in the run up to the Af-Pak strategy's formulation and we continue to remain in close touch with our American interlocutors on this," she said.
America is well aware of India's approach to these issues, our concerns about terrorism emanating from Pakistan, our desire to see a secure and stable Afghanistan; and that will involve tackling the sources of terrorism in our region," Rao said. "And America understands that Pakistan continues to provide safe haven to a number of terrorists operating in our region," she added.
When asked about the possibilities of the US re-hyphenating its relationship with Pakistan and India, Rao said: "The logic of the relationship and the logic of the times defies your assessment. There is no question of this relationship being re-hyphenated, as you say," Rao said.
"Our relationship with the US is a mature relationship. It is one of the defining partnerships of the times as President Obama said so eloquently during our prime minister's visit," she added. The issues relating to AfPak situation figured prominently in discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Obama in Washington Nov 24.
Holbrooke, US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan (AfPak), is expected to hold discussions on the evolving situation in Afghanistan with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, Rao and senior officials of the external affairs ministry, official sources said. He will meet External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Monday. Krishna will represent India at the London conference on Afghanistan set for Jan 28.
India is likely to remind the US about the dangers of any premature exit plan that could leave Afghanistan at the mercy of Taliban extremists with suspected linkages to elements across the border in Pakistan.