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'Indian role in Afghanistan welcome'

The State Department spokesman Mark Toner has said India can play a constructive role Afghanistan and it will welcome New Delhi's involvement in the war-torn nation.

world Updated: May 14, 2011 16:30 IST

The US has said India can play a constructive role Afghanistan and it will welcome New Delhi's involvement in the war-torn nation.

"India can play a constructive role in Afghanistan and in the region, and we would certainly welcome their involvement," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.

"Of course we talk about Afghanistan with India and – as well as other regional issues. Our bilateral relationship with India is quite close and robust. We recognise India's role in the region and are frankly encouraged by it playing a more active and constructive role," Toner said in response to a question.

The US also welcomed the latest Indian initiative in Afghanistan and the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Kabul that concluded on Friday.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said: "Prime Minister Singh's visit to Kabul, which he concluded today, underscored India's strong efforts to support international efforts to rebuild a secure, stable Afghanistan."

"The Prime Minister raised India's assistance pledge to a total of $2 billion, and India has assisted with critical infrastructure, like power stations and the Parliament building, and small development projects like health care facilities and wells."

Blake, speaking on India-US relations at a Washington-based think tank, noted Singh has spearheaded initiative to normalise relations with Pakistan.

"Building on the cricket diplomacy launched by Prime Ministers Singh and (Yousuf Raza) Gilani in Mohali, the Commerce Secretaries of the two countries met last month in Islamabad and jointly announced ambitious commitments to enhance trade and commercial ties," he said.

India's economic rise presents an "enormous opportunity" to Pakistan, and the normalisation of economic ties could provide immense benefits to millions of entrepreneurs, farmers and businessmen in both countries, the official said.

"More critically, a bilateral breakthrough could provide a catalyst for wider regional economic integration, a transformative goal we all wish realised," he added.