Pakistan on Thursday said it was not worried about President Barack Obama's assertion that he sees India as the cornerstone of US's future engagement with Asia, and insisted that its ties with Washington should not be seen through the prism of US-India relations.
Obama's remarks in an interview ahead of his visit to India dominated the weekly briefing at the Foreign Office, with spokesman Abdul Basit seeking to downplay the comments.
Asked to comment on Obama's remark that he sees "India as a cornerstone of America's engagement in Asia", Basit said: "We just concluded the third round of the Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue and that dialogue made it very clear that the US is interested in having a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan".
"We are not very worried about (Obama's comment)".
Basit insisted that Pakistan's relations with the US should not be seen through "the prism of US-India relations".
He added: "Pakistan's relations are independent of what is happening between US and India".
Replying to another question on Obama's remark that Pakistan has a "special responsibility" to act "transparently, fully and urgently" to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks to justice, Basit contended that Islamabad was "sparing no effort" in this regard.
Basit refused to interpret why Obama would stay in the Taj Hotel, one of the targets in the Mumbai attacks, during the inaugural leg of his visit.
He noted that the Kashmir issue is a "major concern" for Pakistan, which is hoping that Obama's visit would help in contributing to efforts to resolve the long-standing dispute.
In response to several other questions on Obama's visit to India beginning tomorrow, Basit said Pakistan was hopeful that stronger relations between New Delhi and Washington would foster peace and stability in South Asia.
"If India is a strategic partner of the US, we feel that their relations could be helpful in promoting peace and stability in South Asia.
"We are confident that President Obama is conscious of that and his visit to India would help to promote peace and stability in South Asia," he said.
Asked about India's aspiration to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Basit said he had no comment to make because the matter was between India and the 45-member grouping.
"But we strongly believe that there should be a level playing field for all countries and Pakistan has been insisting on getting the same treatment from the international community on civil nuclear cooperation as has been made available to India," he said.