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US Encouraged by Indo-Pak Talks: Clinton
Noting that the Obama Administration is working "very hard" on its strategic partnership with India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today told law makers that she is encouraged by the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan.

At the same time, she expressed support to India's stand that Pakistan needs to prevent the use of its territory against India.

She, indeed, conceded before a key Congressional committee, that this is one of the greatest impediment to peace talks between the two countries.

"With respect to India, we are working very hard on our strategic partnership with India," Clinton said in response to a question during a hearing on Pakistan at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I think it's fair to say that, you know, India looks at Pakistan and, believes that their continuing support for elements of insurgency against India in Kashmir and across the border into India proper makes it very difficult for them to know what path to choose," Clinton said.

"But I've been encouraged by the cricket diplomacy between Prime Minister Singh and Prime Minister Gilani.

I've been encouraged by the resumption of talks that had broken off in 2008," she said.

"We have certainly urged both sides to go as far as they could to build more confidence and to try to be able to develop an atmosphere of greater cooperation," Clinton said.

Clinton told the Senators that one has to think that US has to recognize the overriding, strategic framework in which Pakistan thinks of itself, is its relationship with India.

"Every time we make a move toward improving our relationship with India, which we started in a great commitment to back in the '90s, and it's been bipartisan, with both President Clinton and President Obama and President Bush, the Pakistanis find that creates a lot of cognitive dissonance," she said.

"So are you our friend or their friend? It's all a zero-sum game to them.

And what we tried to do in the Obama administration, from the beginning of the President's term, was to look at Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the entire region as a whole, and not just Afghanistan or just Pakistan, but also to try to understand what the drivers of certain behaviors were and how we could develop a more strategic partnership with Pakistan," she said.

Clinton clearly told the Senators that Pakistan is apprehensive of Afghanistan becoming a satellite state of India and they want to prevent that.

"You know, India and Afghanistan have a a historical affinity. And historically, Afghanistan has supported elements within Afghanistan which Pakistan has seen as inimicable to its own interests. So if Pakistan could be assured that what would be left would be favourable to and even, in their view, subservient to Pakistani interests, that would be fine with them," she said.

"The Indians are not going to sit around and accept that. The Uzbeks and the Tajiks are not going to sit around and just accept that," Clinton said.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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