Pakistan, global crunch top Manmohan-Obama agenda in London


New Delhi : Apart from the global financial crisis, India and the US will discuss the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 summit in London Thursday.

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“The situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan will figure in the discussions,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters here Monday while referring to the first meeting between Manmohan Singh and Obama.

“We welcome a clear will to control terrorism in the region and its roots in Pakistan. India has direct stakes in the success of the international effort,” Menon said when asked about India’s reaction to the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy unveiled by Obama last week.

Describing India-US ties as a “truly strategic global standalone relationship”, Menon said the meeting will provide the two leaders an opportunity to discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations.

Besides global financial crisis, regional and global issues will also be discussed, he said.

Manmohan Singh leaves for London Tuesday to attend the G20 summit of the world’s major developed economies and emerging economies to collectively find ways to mitigate the global financial downturn.

Menon, however, struck a cautionary note about the $7.5 billion non-military aid the US plans to give to Pakistan over the next five years. The link between extremist elements and the Pakistan establishment is a cause of worry, he said.

“I don’t believe people don’t accept our diagnosis of the problem. Different countries might have different approaches,” he said.

These issues will be discussed when US special envoy Richard Holbrooke comes here next week, he said.

India is not in favour of giving massive aid to Pakistan as it fears it might be misused and diverted for anti-India terror activities. Over a month ago, Menon had said that giving aid to Pakistan was tantamount to giving alcohol to an alcoholic and drug to a drug addict.

The new AfPak policy Obama announced Friday envisages $1.5 billion non-military aid per year to Pakistan, bolstering American troops and the Afghan National Army, and setting up a contact group for Afghanistan that also includes key regional players like Iran, Russia, India and China besides the Central Asian states and the Gulf nations.

Under the new policy, the US has sought to link aid to Pakistan with its performance against combating terrorism.