Given the current geo-political situation in South Asia, a top Obama Administration official confirmed on Thursday that Pakistan will figure in talks when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets Indian leaders during her upcoming visit to India.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake appreciated the recent meetings between the leaders of India and Pakistan and identified it as a positive development.
"I am sure that Pakistan will be a subject of discussion during the meetings," Blake told reporters.
But Blake said there has already been quite a lot of dialogue between India and Pakistan, including the recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pak President Asif Ali Zardari. The two sides also have had meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where the Non-Aligned Summit is underway.
"The foreign secretaries -- both sides met on Tuesday, I believe. And I think the Prime Ministers are scheduled to meet on Thursday. So I think there is already been good dialogue underway and certainly we welcome that," Blake said.
He said from these meetings the US would like to see greater understanding and progress particularly on the issue of Pakistan moving forward with prosecution of those responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
"There are some early indications in the Pakistani press that the chargesheets are going to be filed as early as next
week on that, which certainly would be a positive step forward," he said.
Blake said this trip is focused on India to highlight the new strategic partnership and people-to-people ties and by not going to Pakistan on this trip, she is not trying to send any signal at all.
"But that doesn't mean that we attach any less importance to Pakistan and Afghanistan. There's already been extensive high level engagement between the US and the leaders of both of those countries," he said when asked why Clinton is not going to Pakistan.
At a different event later in the day, Clinton announced that she would be going to Pakistan in the fall. US President Barack Obama recently hosted a trilateral summit with his Pak and Afghan counterparts. "So we are not trying to send any signal at all, except at this stage to talk about our enhanced relationship with India. And I know that the Secretary looks forward to an early opportunity to get out to both Afghanistan and Pakistan," Blake said.
In response to a question, Blake said the recent military action taken by Pak Army in Swat Valley have garnered the
support of the Pakistani people. "That support in turn will help provide the basis for continued action to make sure that Pakistani soil is not used as a platform from which terrorist attacks can be launched against any of its neighbours," he said.