New Delhi: President Barack Obama pledged Monday to work more closely with India to combat terrorism around the world and offered to help India and Pakistan resolve their long-standing dispute over Kashmir, without intervening directly.
Speaking at a news conference alongside Prime Minister Manmoham Singh, Obama said that while both India and Pakistan have an interest in reducing tensions in the region, the US, “cannot impose a solution to these problems.”
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“We are happy to play any role the parties think is appropriate,” he said.
The conflict over Kashmir has been the main source of friction between the nuclear-armed neighbors since they won independence from Britain in 1947.
Pakistan has frequently sought outside intervention to resolve it but India vehemently opposes such involvement, and the United States has traditionally stayed above the fray. Obama declined to veer from that stance Monday.
Singh said that while he believes a strong, moderate Pakistan is in the interest of India and the wider region, India can’t engage in talks as long as Pakistan’s “terror machine is as active as ever before.”
Obama is spending his third and final day in India, the first stop on his four-country, 10-day trip to Asia.
Obama and Singh touted new agreements for cooperation in a number of areas. They said they would cohost an international education summit next year and said the US department of homeland security and India’s ministry of home affairs would collaborate to combat terrorism by improving security at airports and seaports.
Obama also said the US will continue to share intelligence with India. And Singh said his country would establish new centers to focus more attention on the issues of nuclear proliferation and disease.
The leaders also reaffirmed their pledges of newfound economic cooperation, including moves by the United States to ease export controls affecting trade between the world’s two largest democracies.
Speaking to the sensitivity about high unemployment in the United States, Singh said at one point that his country “is not in the business of stealing jobs from America.”
Obama said in response to a question: “I don’t think India is emerging. It has emerged.”