Clinton to brief India over US’ Taliban talks


New Delhi : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to brief India about Washington’s negotiations with a section of the Taliban and discuss the drawdown strategy in Afghanistan when she holds strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna here Tuesday.

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Afghanistan will be an important issue for discussions between the US and India, US charge d’affaires A. Peter Burleigh told reporters here when asked about forthcoming strategic dialogue between India and the US.

“We have been keeping the Indian government informed about preliminary discussions with a section of the Taliban leadership,” he said.

“We want to reach some understanding with some elements of the Taliban. We (will) do our best to keep the government of India informed about the latest developments,” he added.

India has made it clear that it is ready to accept a peace deal in which only those Taliban who sever links with the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine, renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution are sought to be accommodated in a future dispensation.

However, India continues to have apprehensions about the Taliban reconciliation process as it feels this power-sharing arrangement may give Pakistan added leverage in influencing developments in Afghanistan.

New Delhi also continues to have unease with US President Barack Obama’s plan for a phased drawdown of the US troops that includes a withdrawal of 10,000 US troops this year and another 23,000 US troops by the end of next year.

The acting US envoy stressed that the US and India have robust interaction with India over Afghanistan and lauded New Delhi’s role in the reconstruction of the violence-ravaged country.

“India’s role in Afghanistan is welcome. India’s assistance (to that country) is generous,” he said.

Burleigh said the situation in Pakistan and the US relations with that country will also figure in the discussions.

Alluding to the revived peace process between India and Pakistan, Burleigh said Washington would also like to hear from New Delhi “the evolving discussions between India and Pakistan”.

Clinton touches down here July 18 on a three-day visit for the second strategic dialogue with her counterpart S.M. Krishna.

Counter-terrorism, security issues, civil nuclear deal and the situation in the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan region will be among important issues that Krishna and Clinton will discuss.